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Star Wars: Episode IX- Rise of the Order

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Dark Ferus, Jan 18, 2022.

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  1. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

    Star Wars

    Episode IX

    Rise of the Order

    The Republic is locked in a brutal war. The Coalition, led by Dark Master Ultor and his lieutenants, continues to spread its ideology across star systems, turning many systems against the Republic.

    The Jedi must reckon with two fronts, earning the animosity of both the crime syndicates of the Coalition and the central authority of the Republic.

    As Luke Skywalker tries to restore peace and stability in the galaxy, both Ultor and the renegade Kira Solo seek out a legendary master, someone who may hold the ultimate key to victory...


    TRANDOSHA

    The spiraling clouds of the Trandoshan homeworld blurred the thick, towering mosses of its forests and jungles.

    Despite the white glow of the clouds, a prominent shadow formed over them with the three Republic cruisers that circled the orbit of the jungle planet.

    Gunships were pouring from the cruisers, creating heavy traffic to and from the surface of Trandosha. On the vine-covered surface, near the brick-and stone cities, officers shouted orders as the men and women under their command marched into the villages.

    Aboard the Black Ring, General Hoff Praxium spoke to the holographic figure of Supreme Commander Omas, Grand Vizier to the Chief of State as well as the head of the New Republic's military.

    "Is the capital secured?" Omas asked his most trusted general.

    "Affirmative, Vizier," Praxium replied, "Drussk will soon be forced to answer to our terms."

    Commander McCallum led the 31st Brigade into the streets of Hsskhor, the Trandoshan capital.

    The Wookiees of McCallum's ranks broke from their procedure and proceeded to grab unarmed Trandoshan civilians whenever they spotted them during the march.

    Acting on an age-old hatred between the two species, the Wookiee Brigadiers slammed the conquered Trandoshans against the walls, which were nearly as covered in vine and moss as the forests nearby, and pounding their furry fists into the Trandoshans' scaly bellies.

    "That's enough," McCallum said as he continued to lead the march, though he didn't sound very severe.

    The Wookiees rejoined the ranks of the Brigade and continued the march through Hsskhor, leaving the bruised Trandoshans to lie on the vine-covered street.

    Flanked by armored Republican Guards, Praxium now spoke to the hologram of the furious Senator Drussk.

    "This is an outrage, General!" the Trandoshan leader bellowed, shaking his scaly fist, "You cannot just storm our planet and begin taking everything by force!"

    Praxium clasped his hands behind him authoritatively as he replied to Drussk.

    "Our occupation is for the good of all, Senator," he replied, "We cannot take any chances as long as you continue to support the Coalition."

    "The values of Trandosha are no business of yours, Praxium!" Drussk growled, his teeth flashing from his thick jaw, "You are doing the work of the Coalition for them, turning the people against the Republic!"

    "I think today's events have proven whose might is superior, Drussk," Praxium replied without hiding any trace of his smugness over the Coalition sympathizing scum that he thought the Trandoshan was, "I will be expecting unconditional surrender from all of your military garrisons."

    Inside the large, tent-shaped structure where Trandosha's governmental business occurred, Drussk turned angrily to his armed, assembled aides.

    "Contact Krassik, and tell him to rally the Coalition militia."

    "I don't think you'll need to wait that long," said a voice from outside.

    Drussk did a double take as Darth Judicar slipped into the window from above.

    "You are one of the Dark Master's lieutenants!" Drussk exclaimed.

    "Yes, and the Coalition is here to liberate your people from the tyranny of the Republic," Judicar replied.

    He moved his robe to reveal the lightsaber clipped to his side, while pointing upwards at the Niktos, Weequays, and Rodians hidden within the balconies nearby.

    The Republic Brigade had arrived at the front steps of the Trandossk, with McCallum pointing his blaster rifle at the guards in front.

    "Get out of the way," he ordered evenly, "Nobody has to get hurt here."

    Behind the long procession of Brigadiers, an All-Terrain-Ground-Tank wheeled in, causing the lingering Trandoshan civilians to scatter.

    Finally, the main entrance doorway slid open to reveal Drussk, accompanied by four armored and armed Trandoshan guards.

    "This is the part where I surrender?" Drussk asked.

    "You got it," McCallum replied, "Trandosha is now under the occupation of the Republic. Your army will be..."

    "Take cover!" Sergeant Corvax yelled as detonators came raining from above.

    Small bursts of explosive gas hit the streets as McCallum and his fellow Republicans scattered, blindly firing their weapons in a state of panic.

    Trandoshan reinforcements landed on the moss below, along with the Coalition backup.

    "For the Coalition, and for freedom!" yelled Weequay pirate captain Skragg, who led the charge as the Coalition guerrillas opened fire.

    "That'll teach you to bring your cannons where they don't belong!" Drussk rasped.

    "Fire!" McCallum yelled at the AT-GT pilot whose head was peering from the cockpit above.

    McCallum had to relay his order while diving through the smoke to avoid a trail of laserfire from a Rodian thug.

    The Trandoshan reinforcements noticeably singled out the Wookiee soldiers among the Republic invaders, leading to several rounds of brutal melee fighting between the Wookiees and Trandoshans.

    The AT-GT aimed its main cannon directly at Drussk's building, blasting a hole in the second story and sending many occupants flying out, immediately dead or wounded.

    All of the sudden, a red lightsaber hissed to life on top of the AT-GT as Judicar jumped onto the cockpit.

    "Help!" the Republic driver yelled as Judicar cut open the cockpit with his lightsaber and stabbed him through the scalp into his entire body.

    Judicar pulled his lightsaber out and somersaulted onto the ground, circling around the ranks of Republic and Coalition warriors.

    "Fall back!" McCallum yelled, "Fall back!"

    McCallum stopped in frozen horror as Judicar leapt in front of him to intercept the fleeing Republic Brigadiers.

    He raised his blaster to fire, but his insides were lit on fire by the blade that cut through his heart.

    Commander McCallum was dead before he hit the smoldering ground and disappeared into the layers of moss.

    CHANDRILIA

    Three cloaked Jedi were grouped in a secret bunker in Chandrilia's small city of Blakis, a medium distance from the Republic Core World's capital.

    The bunker had been designated by Senator Mon Mothma to keep her Jedi allies hidden from militant Republic forces who sought to capture and punish them for their alleged desertion of the Republic upon the Order's refusal to serve as generals in the Coalition Wars.

    The figure on the holotable was one Admiral Lando Calrissian, who spoke with bad news to the three Jedi, two women and a man.

    "I'm afraid things aren't going well on Trandosha," Lando said, "We've lost the entire 31st, and Praxium is running out of reinforcements."

    One of the Jedi, a young woman named Tahiri Veila, turned her cloaked head to the man in between herself and the other female Jedi.

    "Are you going to send any Jedi to help on Trandosha, Master Skywalker?" she asked.

    Luke Skywalker shook his head grimly, his face even more wrinkled and lined from the stress wearing on him over the years.

    "I can't," he replied, "There are no civilians in danger from either side, and so it is not the Jedi's place to fight there."

    Tahiri nodded in understanding, but still looked doubtful under her hood.

    "And you're certain this communication secure, Admiral Calrissian?" the older woman, Tionne, asked, "We don't want Omas to intercept this call and find out where we are?"

    "Senator Mothma has a private, unslicable line to me," Lando promised, "Luke, I promise we're keeping you safe over there."

    "I know," Luke replied, "We'll be ready to keep the people of Chandrilia from getting hurt."

    "You've always had a keen sense of moral good, Luke." Lando said, "Good luck to all of you."

    Lando's hologram faded out, leaving Luke, Tionne, and Tahiri.

    "I'm going to confer with Senator Mothma," Luke said, "Tionne, Tahiri, wait for me outside."

    Tionne and Tahiri exited the small, dimly lit conference chamber and went into the reception hall where their only company was a host of Noghri guards.

    "You look troubled, Tahiri," Tionne said to her former Padawan..

    "I haven't heard from Sam in two weeks," Tahiri replied, "I know his father keeps a close eye on him, but I can't help but worry. What if he got caught trying to communicate with me?"

    "That is the trouble with Jedi attachments," Tionne remarked, "You should stay focused on the mission, and worry about Sam later."

    Despite her words, Tionne spoke with a soft, familiar tone, giving Tahiri and understanding pat on the shoulder.

    "It does no good to worry about what we can't control," she said more reassuringly.

    "I know," Tahiri replied. "But it's not just Sam. I'm worried about Kira. I know she's still out there, but it's been two years."

    "I know of your deep bond with Kira, and I know such a thing can't be broken," Tionne replied, "As long as she stays in your heart, you have nothing to worry about."

    Tahiri nodded in acceptance, but mixed with her worry for Kira, a shadow of guilt was creeping over her as well.

    About a hundred miles away, over the peaceful meadows and the beautiful Lake Andrasha, a female Twi'lek walked the streets of Chandrilia's capital city of Hanna, which was built around the western portion of the lake that fed into the river.

    The River Andrasha led away from the capital and allowed boars to freely move through nautical traffic to the next town, which was divided from Hanna City by the body of water and the rich population of flora on the mountain ranges.

    Darth Talon, dressed incognito to avoid recognition from Hannan civilians, entered a screenery that allowed her to conference with the Dark Master's personal cruiser, Phantom Revenge, currently en route to the Chandrilia system.

    "Are your units in position, Nihl?" Talon asked.

    "All ready for attack," Nihl replied from his quarters aboard the Phantom Revenge, which was flanked by an array several hundred Syck and Viper fighters, as well as two Hutt Cartel Dor'bullas, "I assume the Dark Master is with you?"

    "He has a far greater mission," Talon replied, "I will be leading this attack."

    "You, in command of us?" Nihl scoffed, rolling his eyes through the screen at Talon.

    "Careful, Nihl," Talon replied from her private booth, "by challenging my authority, you question the leadership of the Dark Master. Now, will you cooperate, or will you be a hindrance to the Coalition."

    "Very well," Nihl growled.

    "Perfect," Talon smiled smugly, "Now remember the plan. Once the Republic navy has entered Chandrilian space, your ships will blockade them in while you bring the other Sith into the capital."

    "Yes, of course," Nihl replied, promptly shutting off the screen that displayed Talon's red face.

    The slick-haired Nagal turned bitterly to his fellow Sith apprentices, Wyyrlok and Paxis.

    "We won't stand for this much longer," he promised them, "The Dark Master has been too distracted to concentrate on the war, and Talon is still under his thumb."

    "When will we strike?" asked Wyyrlok eagerly.

    "As soon as we get her alone," Nihl replied, "And then, we will overthrow Ultor and continue the grand tradition of the Sith."

    "What could Ultor be obsessing over that stops him from being here?" Paxis wondered aloud.

    MORABAND

    A Herald-class assault shuttle was docked within the one of the many valleys of Moraband, a foggy world full of mist. As the ramp to the shuttle slowly opened, the fumes emitting from the ship concealed the two exiting figures until they were standing on the red sand dunes.

    The cloaked man threw back his robe to reveal Darth Ultor, Dark Master of the Coalition and the reigning Sith Lord.

    Despite his relative youth, Ultor's face had grown pale and his eyes were sunken.

    To the PROXY droid next to him, Ultor said, "This will bring my long search to a close. Soon I will find this mysterious Master and learn his secrets."

    The PROXY droid nodded its metallic, wired head, whirring and buzzing with activity.

    "What is it, droid?" Ultor asked.

    Then, the droid's visage began to flash between its default appearance, and that of another being.

    Vaguely, Ultor could make out the simulation of a tall, wide-headed Bith wearing a breathing apparatus strapped to his chest.

    "What are you?" Ultor asked, using the Force to pull his lightsaber from his belt and turn on its red blade of energy.

    "I..." the Bith began, before turning back to the droid.

    "Useless machine!" Ultor snarled, plunging his lightsaber into the droid.

    As the droid continued to flash between its own image and that of the impaired Bith, Ultor used the Force to grab onto the PROXY droid and push it, sending it flying into the mist, over the side of the nearby ledge.

    Ultor switched off his lightsaber and clipped it, proceeding towards the path that led downhill.

    He could see the Sith Temple for which he had come to visit, a stone structure not unlike Luke Skywalker's Academy on Ossus.

    "I know you're here, somewhere," he said, quickening his pace towards the ancient Temple, "and you will reveal your secrets."

    SOJOURN

    The many resort facilities on the Hunter's Moon of Sojourn looked like a nice place for a romantic getaway, coupled with the planet's gorgeous scenery and towering trees alongside thebeach.

    Once, the planet had been filled with vacationers enjoying the safari cruises through the rainforests and the walks along the beaches, but only one resident lived in the last remaining dwelling.

    A light spice freighter, purchased from the outback world of Tosste, approached the terrestrial Sojourn, passing by the giant watery planet that the moon revolved around, as well as its crystalline rings.

    Inside the freighter's cockpit, Kira Solo listened to the message that she had received on the small holoprojector built into the freighter.

    An advanced protocol droid spoke into the hologram, addressing Kira.

    "Greetings, Kira Solo. I am 11-4D and I bear a message from my master, the retired Magister Hego Damask. Magister Damask is aware of the conflict between the Republic and the Coalition, not to mention the age-old struggle between the light and dark sides of the Force, and he kindly wishes to invite you to his resort on the moon of Sojourn. The Magister hopes to be of help in your struggle, and he thinks you can benefit greatly from by from him.

    "If you'll hear him out, Miss Solo, he can teach you special abilities far beyond the dreams of either the Jedi or Sith. The Magister is well trained in the ways of the Force himself, and he has kept up his practice for many decades. With the knowledge that Magister Damask carries, I dare say he can turn you into an unstoppable force of nature. If you are interested, Madam Solo, Magister Damask has asked me to transmit his coordinates to you."

    Kira shut off the recording after hearing it again, by now having crossed into the atmosphere of the resort moon.

    She flew over the lush, fantasy rainforests, whose avian species had become more prominent with the absence of hunters.

    From where she was flying, Kira could see large fruit hanging off of the trees.

    As she flew to the coordinates that 11-4D had transmitted to her purchased ship, Kira reflected on her journey over the last two years.

    She had stayed away from both her Jedi comrades and the war that the Republic was fighting against the Coalition.

    Kira had gotten used to living alone, without friendship or the comforts that came with it, but she deeply missed her parents, as well as her best friend Tahiri.

    This was not to mention her brother Ben, struck dead in battle by Darth Ultor, formerly Ben's best friend and fellow Jedi Padawan, Skyler.

    The war had become far more personal for Kira after this, despite Luke's insistence that the Jedi were to refrain from engaging the Coalition in battle unless innocent lives were directly in harm's way. Kira was determined to destroy the Sith at all cost, and end Ultor's life personally.

    She could still see him standing on the bridge above her as she knelt by her dying brother.

    "Let's see if this Magister has anything worth my time," Kira said aloud as she began to land her craft near the beach.

    As her freighter landed in the sand, Kira slipped out of the cockpit and pressed the button to open the ramp to the ship.

    Climbing out into the sunlight, Kira gazed up past the grass and over the hill, where she saw the beach home sitting over the horizon. She sensed an aura strong in the Force, seeping with deep knowledge and mysterious power waiting for her.

    As Kira began the trek up to the resort, she suddenly felt a presence behind her, that of a shimmering, transparent Jedi spirit.

    Anakin Skywalker went straight to the point as soon as Kira turned around to face him.

    "Are you sure you know what you're doing, Kira?" he asked his granddaughter, "Are you sure this man has the answers you're looking for?"

    "I've been looking for the answers for two years, Anakin," Kira replied, betraying more than a small hint of annoyance, "This is the only lead I've gotten that might be at all useful!"

    "This man, Damask, he might not be as trustworthy as you think," Anakin cautioned, "I know you sense the same disturbance that I do."

    "I only sense an opportunity to stop wasting my time, flying from planet to planet, hoping to get some kind of edge," Kira replied, "Now, if you don't have anything else to say, I'm going to see Damask now."

    Kira hurried through the sand towards the path leading to Damask's resort home.

    Anakin watched her run away and looked down sadly.

    Inside the mansion atop the cliff overlooking the coastline, the lone resident strode through the hallway that led into his dimly lit sitting room.

    On his way, he passed by a metal doorway with a round handle to twist open, that led down into a dark basement below.

    Silently, the man, a long-headed Muun with sunken black eyes and a hunched posture, continued on to his sitting room, choosing the armchair next to the empty fireplace.

    "Anything for you, master?" the droid 11-4D asked.

    "Not now," the Muun replied.

    11-4D continued towards the garage while the Muun sat idly, until a shimmering blue ghost appeared on the carpet in front of him.

    The ghost was a young man, wearing Jedi robes and donning a scar next to his right eye.

    "I know who you are," the Muun said, "Anakin Skywalker."

    Anakin nodded and said, "Then you must know why I'm here, Lord Plagueis."

    "I don't use that name anymore, Master Jedi," Hego Damask replied, "Hego Damask is my birth name, the name I called myself before falling prey to the Sith. But you would know something about that, wouldn't you?"

    Anakin nodded, not expressing any emotion at the Muun's words.

    "I know better than anyone that it is possible to turn away from the dark side," Anakin replied, "But I also know what you keep in your basement, and I know that you've contacted my granddaughter to train her."

    "Rest assured, Master Skywalker, I have no intention of corrupting Miss Solo with Sith teachings," Damask replied, "Why do you think I have remained here idly, staying out of every galactic conflict that has transpired? Do you think I still seek power for myself?"

    "Maybe not," Anakin replied, "But I will be watching you as you teach Kira. I know that the pull of the dark side is ever alluring, not only for her, but for you as well. I know what to do if I get any indication that you are teaching her the wrong things."

    Damask remained calm and collected in the face of the ghostly warning.

    "Very well, Master Jedi," he said, "If I promise not to send your granddaughter down the path to the dark side, will you allow her to undergo my teachings in peace?"

    "I told Kira that it is up to her to find the path that her heart tells her to follow," Anakin replied, "and as long as she does not put herself in danger, I will stick with my previous word."

    Damask took this as tacit acceptance.

    "Very well, Master Skywalker. I promise not to pull her down the path that I once fell prey to."

    "We both did," Anakin reminded the Muun, before fading out of the living room floor, "I understand why you felt its pull once. But that doesn't mean I won't be watching you."

    Damask smiled gently as he sensed the new presence approaching.

    He meant everything he had told Anakin Skywalker. Damask had once been a Sith Lord, having fallen been raised by his Master to embrace the dark side and live for the conquest of galactic domination.

    But Damask had refused to kill his Master when the time had come, only doing so in self-defense when his master grew impatient. When Damask sought his own Sith apprentice, nearly a century ago now, he had vowed to rule with the young Darth Sidious as an equal.

    Now, however, Damask truly saw the evils of the dark side and the Sith. He had allowed Sidious to achieve his ultimate conquest before his own downfall, having decided that neither side was worth joining, until now. Now, Damask had decided that Kira Solo was the key to the defeat of Sidious's bloodline. And he would teach her the secrets he had obtained from years of studying the Force, including the forbidden knowledge that her grandfather, Anakin, had once sought.
     
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  2. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    SOJOURN

    Kira could indeed sense the dark side as she approached the resort home belonging to Hego Damask,but it wasn't explicit in the way that Kira had sensed its shadow from Ultor or his domain of evil.

    Rather, the tremor that Kira felt was hiding behind a curtain, not even sure of itself.

    It really didn't matter, she decided, she would leave if Damask wasn't worth her time, and if he tried to pull a fast one, then she'd faced and escaped from worse.

    Finally, Kira had reached the cobblestone walkway that led into Damask's residence.

    Upon her arrival, the old-fashioned door opened and the silver protocol droid was there to greet her.

    "Greetings, traveler," 11-4D said, "You must be Kira Solo."

    "You contacted me," Kira said hollowly.

    "Yes, if you'll come inside," 11-4D offered, gesturing for Kira to enter the manor, which was very shadowy and poorly lit behind the foyer.

    "Miss Solo," another voice said from a distance behind the droid.

    Kira made out a tall figure emerge from the shadows to reveal a tottering Muun, smiling kindly at her.

    "You must be Magister Damask, then?" Kira asked, trying to feel out the strangers aura. She sensed mystery and hidden secrets within the man, but as of yet, nothing sinister.

    "Former Magister," Damask replied, "My company has been defunct for many years. I'm just a simple man now, and it's an easy enough life without pursuing some goal or another. I sense that you live with a purpose, dear girl. You have a goal that you seek to achieve."

    Kira nodded confidently, glad that they were getting to the point.

    "I was a Jedi, but I left because I couldn't live with the philosophy. The Sith killed my brother, and I wanted revenge. I still do." The rage she had felt on the day of Ben's death was flowing back to her as she spoke of her motivations, feeling more confident in them. "I want to kill Ultor for what he did to Ben, after Ben tried to appeal to him more than once. I want to destroy Ultor and stop him from committing even more atrocities than he has. But Master Skywalker stopped me when I had the chance for revenge- he said it wasn't the Jedi way, right after I watched my brother die!"

    Kira was immediately ashamed of herself for the tears that had befallen her, but they were few enough to hide from the stranger.

    "Well, my dear girl, I certainly don't believe in letting scores remain unsettled. If somebody does something bad to you, it is the natural order of things for you to return the favor. We cannot rely on fate alone, don't you agree, Kira?"

    Kira nodded in agreement, glad to have her feelings validated by somebody else. That was exactly how she had felt after Luke had held her back from finishing off the weakened Ultor on Ossus.

    "So you say you have knowledge to share with me?" Kira asked Damask, "Knowledge that will help me beat the Coalition."

    "Come on in," Damask said, beckoning for Kira to enter.

    This time, Kira did, following him into the beach house.

    All of the sudden, Kira felt a sharp beacon pierce her brain- a radiation of intense power and energy calling to her. She was pulled from reality as she saw flashes, different images passing her by as voices whispered in and out of her ears.

    "What's happening?" She asked, staggering blindly around the room and she felt for something to grab onto.

    "Are you all right, Kira?" Damask asked, shaking his visitor to her senses.

    Kira saw a blur that turned into Damask's wrinkled and alien but humane face.

    "You have something here, a weapon tainted with the dark side."

    "Not a weapon exactly," Damask replied, "But something that concerns the training I have summoned you for. Behind that door is a secret that I have discovered during my years of studying the Force; a secret that I have shared with no one. Behind the door is the key to your victory against the Coalition and against the Sith known as Ultor."

    The longer Kira stood in the glow of the radiation from the door panel, the more she enjoyed the feel from its presence.

    "Show me," she said with an eager voice.

    "Before I do, I want to be clear about something. What you will find down there is heavily wrought with dark energy. But the powers you will learn is not exclusive to the dark side, but they can be used for good or evil. My goal is not to train you in the ways of the dark side, but to give you the abilities you need without regard for the narrow, dogmatic views of the Jedi."

    "I understand, Mister Damask," Kira replied, "Now I'm ready to learn whatever it is you have to teach me. Show me what's down there, if you really intend to teach me anything."

    She felt emboldened by the vibrations flowing through her, although she couldn't quite explain why. But the energy that Kira sensed below her was something that she oddly felt that she wanted to possess for herself.

    "Very well," Damask replied, twisting the round latch to open the sliding doors, "This way."

    Damask disappeared into a black corridor that led down a staircase into the abyss.

    Hesitating only for a fraction of a second, Kira followed him into the dark, until she saw a lit-up room at the bottom.

    Damask entered what could only be described as a secret laboratory, with bottles full of potion on the tables, and several rows of liquid tanks.

    Kira wrinkled her nose and gagged in disgust at the sight of what rested in each of the tanks- Damask was storing dead, rotting corpses in his laboratory.

    "What are these?" Kira asked.

    "These are the results of long research and years of studying the origins of the Force," Damask replied, "Tell me, did your Jedi Academy teach you about the midichlorians?"

    Kira nodded. "They're the microscopic life forms that live inside us. They communicate the will of the Force, and enact its power through the beings that they dwell in."

    "Then you'll know that midichlorians determine the potential of an individual," Damask replied, "But just imagine- what if there was a way to control the actions of midichlorians, inject our own wills into the living Force."

    "You can do that?" Kira asked, admittedly becoming increasingly marveled but what she was hearing, "and you say you can teach me?"

    "Maybe a demonstration will clear up any doubt," Damask replied.

    He selected a tank containing the body of a long-deceased Bith, who wore a breathing apparatus bound to his rotting chest.

    Damask stretched his bony fingers towards the Bith and concentrated. Kira watched, trying to detect exactly what Damask was doing to the cadaver, but sensed nothing concrete.

    She couldn't even bring herself to react with surprise when the Bith's decaying flesh slowly became whole once again, until its face regained its color and it opened its large, black eyes, which immediately glowed red with malice

    Kira gaped in horror and stumbled back against a table, causing the bottles on it to shake loudly.

    The Bith looked around in confusion, evidently unsure of where he was and what was happening.

    "Can you hear me?" Damask asked the Bith in a gentle, almost paternal voice.

    The Bith seemed to recognize Damask's voice and turned his large head in his direction, his eyes flashing.

    "What have you done to me?" the Bith asked in a labored voice. Kira could feel the rising wave of anger and sensed a vague notion of deep-seated rage looming overhead.

    "You are being encased in this flood tank for your own well-being," Damask assured the Bith, "While I show my new student how your midichlorians can revive you at my will."

    Kira remained awestruck, gazing intensely at the Bith as he turned his eyes on Kira, then back to Damask.

    “...you...traitor…apprentice!" the Bith snarled, trying and failing to break the glass of the tank encasing him with his weakened arms.

    A wave of Damask's hand silenced the Bith, and he began to drain his experiment's life force once again.

    "Go back to sleep," Damask whispered soothingly to the angry Bith.

    Kira watched with a mixture of repulsion and fascination as Damask manipulated the Bith midichlorians to shut down once against, slowly reverting him to his state as a corpse.

    "Did you...bring him back from the dead?" Kira asked with disbelief, still gaping.

    Damask nodded with a smirk. "Yes, as you can see, I have achieved the power to cheat death. Controlling the midichlorians to take or revive a life is something that no other has achieved. Even Ultor only dreams of such power."

    As Damask spoke, the Bith, apparently named Tenebrous, began to lose consciousness, returning to a state of death.

    "I want you to teach this power to me," Kira said determinedly, "I want to learn how to control the midichlorians like you can."

    "I will teach you," Damask replied earnestly, "But just remember, learning such power takes a great deal of patience, just like anything worth mastering."

    Kira's face formed a small, barely perceptible scowl. Damask wasn't sounding much different from Luke and the other Jedi Masters at the Academy. Still, Kira decided, he had something of value that they didn't, and she would use his knowledge to end the war, triumph over her worst enemy, and possibly even bring Ben back from the dead.

    Kira now knew for certain that this was possible, and not merely the stuff of legends.

    CHANDRILIA

    Another Republic cruiser leapt into orbit of the terrestrial Chandrilia, which had already been surrounded by the Coalition blockade.

    The Last Command was accompanied by a fleet of Alpha 3's, upgraded from the Interceptors used at the start of the war.

    Four gunships sailed in accompaniment of the Alpha 3's, all in procession towards the planet's surface on the other side of the spherical surface from the Coalition fleet.

    From the trooper carrier of the lead gunship, Major Sam Fel Praxium said into his comlink, which was programmed to transmit to all ships participating in the counterattack, "This is Major Praxium. Do you read me?"

    "I read you, Major," Commander Diqua replied from her Alpha, "All fighter units ready to engage."

    "Engaging now," Sam said, looking over the armed and armored Brigadiers squatting in the gunship.

    From the deck of the Phantom Revenge, the three Sith, escorted by a small unit of Coalition guerrillas, observed as the Republic fighters and gunships approached the planet.

    "They're going to try and block us in," Nihl said.

    "Lucky that's what we want, anyway," Paxis replied.

    "All Cartel units, advance to the planetary surface," Nihl said into the built-in communication radio of the command bridge.

    Below their feet, silent Shadowtroopers were operating the controls of the crusier, content to remain in the background.

    Suddenly, a large, portly hologram appeared in full color before the three Sith, revealing the corpulent, bespectacled Gorga the Hutt.

    "Gorga, what is it?" Nihl asked with visible irritation.

    Gorga's black protocol droid, TC-70, appeared on the scene next to his master.

    "The mighty Gorga wants to make sure that the Sith do not forget the bargain. The aid of the Hutt clans for the Chandrilia strike for the recapture of Tatooine."

    "You'll have to take that up with Ultor," Nihl replied with indifference, "I'm just the Sith Lieutenant."

    "His excellency has tried to contact your Dark Master without avail."

    "Well, then there's nothing we can do about that, is there?" Nihl snapped, eagerly terminating the communication.

    From the mountain summits bordering Blakis with the capital of Hanna City, Tionne and Tahiri watched the Coalition ships enter the atmosphere, followed closely behind by the Republic Alphas.

    Luke emerged from the safe house and said, "Let's go."

    The three of them proceeded to the landspeeder perched beside the back entrance of the hideout and climbed in, with Tahiri sitting behind Luke and Tionne.

    "How are we going to avoid being seen by the Republic if we join the fight?" Tahiri asked as Luke pulled the throttle to launch the speeded down the mountain slope.

    "We're not joining," Luke replied, "We're only going to make sure innocents don't get hurt."

    As the three Jedi sped towards the capital city, the Coalition fighters opened fire on the buildings, causing every pedestrian in sight to scream and run for cover, while the air traffic scattered and fled in any direction possible.

    Aboard the Phantom Revenge, three Sith Infiltrators fired up their engines and began lifting off along with the Hawk gunships carrying mercenaries. They descended down the bottom hatch that allowed the ships to exit the cruiser into the orbit of space.

    "This looks bad!" Green Three said from his Alpha, "Major, I don't think we'll last long against them up here."

    Sam looked out the viewing screen of his gunship, immediately realizing their disadvantage.

    "All craft, prepare to land on Chandrilia's surface, set your courses for Hanna City!"

    The Republic ships sped away from their new pursuers, by default following the Coalition Vipers and Sycks that had begun to attack the capital already.

    On a public Holonet screen hanging over the city on a skyscraper's outer wall, Darth Talon's face appeared, scowling down at the cowering, terrified population.

    "Greetings, people of Chandrilia," Talon said, "My name is Corla Kreshi, Lieutenant of the Coalition, representing the Dark Master. We are here to liberate the people from the tyrannical grip of the New Republic."

    A older male civilian shouted at the holoscreen from the sidewalk, unheard by anybody not in his vicinity, "You people are terrorists!"

    Talon's reply seemed almost on cue in response to the random man's defiance.

    "I want to show you an example of the Republic's oppression, from the neighboring world of Trandosha."

    The large holoscreen replaced Talon's red face with a moving picture from one of Trandosha's villages, with Republic soldiers marching through the mossy vines, forcing Trandoshans to move out of their way. The publicly displayed scene then cut to the skirmish outside of Drussk's headquarters, purposely omitting the onslaught of Darth Judicar.

    "Is this what you want to happen to the beautiful Chandrilia?" Talon asked through the Holonet display, "Do you want the Republic to ravage your cities and homes for political disagreement?"

    The citizens of Hanna city began to argue amongst themselves as they kept cover from the ships flying overhead.

    "Allow us to liberate you, and show the Republic that your freedoms are not to be crunched!" Talon yelled.

    About half of the crowd yelled with enthusiasm, while others still shouted abuse at the screen, while throwing objects as well.

    Suddenly, the screen's image changed from Talon's broadcast to that of Mon Mothma.

    "Everybody, stay calm," the old Senator advised, "Help is on the way."

    As if they were acting on cue, the Republic gunships and Alphas came soaring from the clouds above, drawing the attention of the hovering Coalition fighters.

    The people scattered and fled for their lives as laserfire sailed a hundred yards over their heads.

    "Make way to land!" Corporal Yorn shouted from the gunship with the unit of Brigadiers that he led.

    The Alphas kept the Sycks and Vipers at bay as the gunships landed, and the Brigadiers came rushing onto the streets, opening fire on the small fighters above them.

    On the other side of the downtown plaza from where the Republic Brigadiers had landed and were now rushing through the streets, Darth Talon, formerly known as Corla Kreshi, emerged from the shadows, hiding two long lightsaber hilts under the sleeves of the Sith cloak she had put on over her casual disguise.

    As the landspeeder reached the outskirts of the battle-torn city, Luke did a double take and winced.

    "What is it, Luke?" Tionne asked, recognizing the look on his face, "Do we have more than the fighters to worry about?"

    "We have Sith company," Luke replied, "they're getting better at hiding themselves through the Force."

    He began to slow the landspeeder down once they had approached the outer city wall, stopping it under the cover of a large, overhanging bush among the many in the countryside valleys.

    The three Jedi pulled their brown hoods over their heads and hurried towards the city to defend the local population.

    Four Sith Infiltrators appeared among the chaos, beginning to descend towards the surface.

    Seeing her fellow Lieutenants docking their crafts near her own, Talon hurried towards them as they each began to exit the open ramps of their Infiltrators, each donning the signature black robe of a Sith.

    "You're late, all of you!" she hissed, "We have a mission to achieve here. Follow me!"

    As Talon beckoned them towards the intersection that led to the exchanges of gunfire, Nihl, Judicar, Paxis and Wyyrlok all exchange fierce, sinister looks.

    After shooting at the cockpit of a Syck fighter, Sam dove under the protection of an open speeder garage and pulled out his comlink.

    "What's the situation from above?" he asked.

    "We've lost five so far," Trix Azer said, herself in the middle of swerving between two volleys of laserfire just on top of Hanna City's slanted Capitol building fifteen hundred feet above, "I know Marcavian was one of them."

    Sam's insides lurched, but he had gotten so used to such losses that he was able to transition back to battle mode with ease.

    "Keep driving those fighters away," he said, "We'll have a proper memorial when this is over."

    Sam had to jump aside as a trail of red laserfire drilled a hole in the ground beside him

    He looked around, his heart filling with horror at the sight of smoke and flames encroaching the buildings around him, with laserfire trailing high above.

    "I've had enough of this," he muttered to himself, his mind briefly flashing through every battle against the Coalition that he had been through, as well as every dead body he had had to carry through the battlefield, and every fighter pilot who had been blown up by the Coalition ships.

    "Advance to the Capitol!" Sam yelled at the men and women near him, finally running out of the cover of the abandoned garage.

    He led the Brigadiers forward, ducking as the volleys of fire from the Coalition ships continued to hail. A scream and a thud behind Sam indicated that at least one of his Brigadiers had been fatally struck by a blast, but he couldn't bring himself to look back.

    As they turned the corner to advance on the plaza, a row of Hutt Cartel Hawk gunships blocked the pathway leading to the large, spiral-shaped skyscraper.

    Out of the enemy carriers, the doors opened and at least forty armed mercenaries emerged.

    "Look out!" Sam yelled as the masked thugs opened fire. He hurried to the side with his adapted reflexes as he sent a deadly shot from his own blaster rifle into the chest of a Coalition warrior.

    It helps that they don't show their faces, Sam thought as he made another shot, this time to the head. This way, it was easier to kill the various beings who were somehow persuaded or tricked into joining the ranks of the terrorist Coalition.

    "Krebbs!" Sam shouted as one of his sergeants was struck in the head by a fatal blow, dying instantly.

    "Look!" one of the men shouted.

    Sam's stomach turned inside out as soon as he looked to the street opposite the one from which they had come.

    Five cloaked figures were approaching, throwing back their hoods to reveal the Sith Lieutenants; Talon, the female Twi'lek who had just broadcasted herself to the public, the male Nagal Nihl, the female Nautolan Paxis, the male human Wyyrlok, and the male Kiffar Judicar

    Sam didn't even wait for the Sith to activate their lightsabers to give the command.

    "Fall back!" he yelled, "retreat!"

    He turned on his own heels and started running, turning back with his blaster rifle to continue firing at the masked guerrillas who had begun to pursue, now led by the five Sith.

    Talon was the first to activate her lightsabers, now carrying two red blades.

    The rest of them soon hissed to life, and the streets were suddenly filled with screams of pain and death.

    "Don't look back!"

    From the Republic cruiser Black Ring, General Praxium watched the holo footage of the battle.

    "Prepare my ship," he said to his aide, "and have them deploy the 50th and the 73rd Brigades as well. We need a lot more men if we're going to win this."

    From the covers of a desolate building in the burning city, Luke, Tionne and Tahiri observed the battle.

    "Sam's there, and more good people," Tahiri insisted, "They don't deserve to get mowed down."

    "No, they don't," Tionne reluctantly agreed, shaking her head with sadness. "Master Skywalker, I know we said that the Jedi wouldn't fight a war, but this is just senseless destruction."

    "You're right," Luke said with a nod, "And that's why we're here."

    He knew what had to be done, to a point. The Jedi were not neutral, he knew that much for certain.

    MORABAND

    Ultor trudged alone through the red sand, his eyes fixed on the ancient Sith Temple before him, between groves of sharp rocks.

    His cape billowed up and down behind him as he strode down the slope of the rocks where he had landed, quickly approaching the pillared structure.

    At last, the Dark Master reached the entrance, climbing the stone steps and crossing through the archway.

    Statues of ancient Sith Lords were built along two rows on either side of the walkway into the temple, their faces boring into Ultor as he walked past them.

    Once he was fully inside the Sith Temple, Ultor stopped to scan the interior and take in the sights. He saw several panels in the walls that had clearly been broken into, with tipped-over caskets scattered across the floor. Some Sith bones remained, but many were detached from the skeletons that had rested in here.

    "It seems I'm not the first to come here," Ultor remarked. His eye pupils flashed yellow as he absorbed the energy of the Dark Lords whose spirits screamed through the walls. He would have success where they had failed.

    Passing the broken tombs and coffins, Ultor entered another room, full of shelves that held a few stray Holocrons, but none that shined or radiated energy the way that Sidious's had.

    Summoning a powerful wave of darkness power, Ultor raised both hands and concentrating, digging hard and intensely into the dark side of the Force.

    "Activate, keepers of Sith knowledge, and reveal your secrets to me," he growled, straining with intense efforts as he tried to activate the Holocrons all at once, "Where is the most powerful wielder of your power?"

    Ultor's muscles were cracking from the pressure he was applying, his face growing red and clenched with rage as he failed to activate the Holocrons.

    Finally, a glare of red light shone from a solid prism. Ultor turned his pale face to the source of energy, rushing to grab the Holocron.

    He then let go of the rest, dismissing the artifacts as worthless. Holding the Holocron that had called to him, Ultor willed its knowledge to flow through his hands into his veins, and tunnel through him.

    Finally, a bright glow came from the Holocron, and produced a light that spread across the room, until Ultor was met by a shimmering figure, very much like the figure of his great-grandfather had appeared to him before Ultor had destroyed the Holocron encasing Palpatine's spirit.

    "You're a Sith spirit," Ultor said, neither impressed nor repulsed. He'd seen it all before.

    "Yes and no," the glowing image replied. It was a Bith who spoke to him, one who wore a breathing apparatus and spoke in a slow, labored voice. "I encased my soul in this Holocron, but I still have an organic body disconnected from it, stolen from my tomb by another Sith. I have been revived and killed again countless times, always returning to my home here whenever he chooses to bring me back."

    "You're referring to the Sith Master that Lord Sidious spoke of," Ultor replied, slowing piecing things together, "The Master that can cheat death."

    The Bith replied, "That would be my former apprentice, Darth Plagueis. He was the master of Sidious. You were a disciple of Lord Sidious?"

    Ultor shook his head before replying, "I was his blood descendant. I discovered his Holocron in the Jedi Archives. Before his death, Sidious used the dark side to preserve his spirit in the Holocron, and Luke Skywalker kept it locked away. I learned from Sidious's Holocron before destroying his spirit."

    "As is the tradition of Bane's Sith Order," the Bith spirit replied, "And now you wish to pursue knowledge beyond what Sidious had to give you?"

    "Plaguies is still alive, somewhere in the universe," Ultor replied, "I want his power, and I want to make sure that nobody can take it!" He felt even more sure of himself in the presence of this old, dead Sith Lord, his determination and anger pressing against his heart and soul.

    "Plagueis killed me after I prepared to move my consciousness into this Holocron," the Bith explained, "As I had eventually expected. He took my body and those of dozens of Sith Lords to his secret facility, where he has been experimenting with the art of midichlorian control. When I last awoke in the physical realm, I saw that he had found a new apprentice to teach his secrets to."

    "A new apprentice?" Ultor asked, growling with frustration. It sounded like he now had two adversaries to conquer that possessed the knowledge he sought, "Who was it?"

    "A young woman," the Bith spirit replied.

    Comprehension dawned over Ultor as he realized exactly who had already visited this mysterious Plagueis. "I know who she is," he snarled, "My mission is to kill her as well."

    He then drew his lightsaber, as if to threaten the glowing Sith apparition.

    "Now, tell me where Plagueis and his new student are."

    "Why should I help you?" the Bith rasped, "You're not going to bring me back as a conscious body the way Plagueis has. Your conquest will do less for me than if he was still in power."

    "I destroyed Sidious, and severed his spirit's last link to the physical world," Ultor threatened, activating his red blade and waving it menacingly at the former Sith Lord, "I can do the same to you."

    "I would still have a link to the physical universe, through Plagueis," the Bith replied, "If I told you where he was, you could destroy my body and ruin any chance I have of returning to life in full."

    Ultor dipped his lightsaber towards the Holocron on the floor, considering making good on his threat.

    Then, he realized he would need to change his tune to get what he wanted.

    Switching off his lightsaber, Ultor took a moment to calm down and compose himself.

    Then he said, "If I found Plagueis, I could avenge your death and ensure that he never returns to power himself. If I had you as an ally, we would have revenge on both him and the Jedi who have reduced the Sith to living the way we have, forced into hiding and keeping our numbers low. So now, mighty Dark Spirit, are you willing to help me?"

    The glowing Bith was silent, considering Ultor's false, hollow offer.

    Ultor kept an earnest expression on his face as he sensed the Bith's vengeful nature coming to light.

    "You propose an alliance with my physical body?" the Bith asked.

    "Yes," Ultor replied, "Once I learn Plagueis's secrets, we can crush him and his new Jedi disciple. With me, mighty Lord of the Sith, you can have the chance that you never had in your life, to be the one to realize Bane's Grand Plan even further than Emperor Sidious ever had."

    The glowing Sith spirit remained silent, gazing intently at Ultor.
     
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  3. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    CHANDRILIA

    Sam flinched as a rock from the street struck the forearm plate of his Brigadier uniform.

    Turning, he saw a crowd of various species, jeering at the retreating Republic troopers.

    "Oppressors!" shouted the voices, "Leave is alone!

    "We're here to protect you from the terrorists!" Sam could not help but shout back.

    The man who was leading the crowd of dissenters would certainly have eaten his own words if he had lived long enough, instead taking a stray laser blast from a Rodian's sniper, sending his fellow civilians fleeing in panic.

    The Sith approached the surviving Brigadiers, raising their red lightsabers to begin the onslaught.

    Suddenly, three more lightsabers snapped to life, and three distinct lights came emerging from the shadows; green, blue, and violet.

    Sam sighed with both relief and dread as he recognized Tahiri among the three Jedi. She did not look his way as she charged at the assembled Sith Lieutenants.

    "Keep on the Brigadiers," Talon said to the Coalition mercenaries, "The Jedi belong to us."

    Sam heard the sound of additional Republic gunships and Alpha-3 fighters flying into the atmosphere above the ravaged Hanna City as the Sith turned their attention to Luke, Tionne and Tahiri, rushing to meet their blades.

    He fired at a large, hairy Whiphid who had chosen to target him, barely dodging a blast to the cheek and driving his shot into the Coalition mercenary's leg. This disabled the Whiphid, forcing the white-furred alien to drop its blaster and roll over in pain before being trampled by a Wookiee.

    The five Sith chose to strategically separate the three Jedi, with Talon and Nihl backing Luke away from the others, while Wyyrlok and Paxis took on Tionne.

    This left Tahiri to face off against Judicar, his eyes flashing red with the glare of his blade. She had even further improved her already advanced skills in the Force and with a lightsaber after being Knighted, but Ultor had trained his apprentices with nearly the full capabilities of his intense power.

    "You've hit a dead end, Skywalker," Talon snarled, "No allies to turn to. Everybody hates the Jedi now, while we rally more beings to the Coalition's cause."

    Luke did not reply at first, at least until sending Nihl crashing into a vacated shop with a powerful Force push as the young Sith tried to impale him.

    "Your message is worthless with all of the devastation you have caused," Luke said, "Your cause is a complete fake. You Sith only seek to dominate over everything."

    "It will be too late," Talon hissed, clashing each of her lightsabers against Luke's green blade in a repetitive motion.

    Luke waved his lightsaber a bit lower, cutting towards Talon's hand. She was only able to pull her arm slightly away before Luke sliced at the blade clenched in her right fist, severing it from the now-broken hilt.

    Talon shouted with fury before throwing away the fizzling pieces of her lightsaber before gripping her other one with both hands and continuing her offensive.

    Nihl had recovered and was now rushing to rejoin the fight, swinging at Luke with his unusually large weapon.

    Suddenly, Paxis came flying from the other end of the street, having been sent in Talon's direction by Tionne. She collided with Nihl and caused them both to stumble, while Talon cartwheeled away and continued her offense against Luke.

    Luke, however, took advantage of his younger opponent's lack of stability, telekinetically knocking her hard against the ground.

    The Grand Master then beckoned for Tionne to follow him, running away from the subdued Sith.

    Meanwhile, Tahiri was still locked in a duel against Judicar, evidently in a stalemate.

    The civilians on the street had long since fled to their speeders and starships, hurrying out of the city intothe vast grasslands

    Breathlessly, Tahiri parried low as Judicar aimed for her knees with his red blade, pushing him away with a grunt.

    She sensed a flash of danger, backflippijt away while, strangely, Judicar also ran for cover.

    The scene was lit by a drone bomb, exploding as it tore through the buildings nearby.

    Tahiri coughed as she waved her lightsaber through the smoke in an effort to dissuade any possible attacks.

    Her ears were ringing as the buildings near her began to collapse.

    "Hey!" somebody yelled, approaching Tahiri through the smoke and ashes of the rubble.

    Tahiri weakly turned her head to find a familiar face emerging from the ruins, wearing the plated uniform of a Republic Brigadier officer.

    "Sam!" Tahiri yelled, switching off her lightsaber.

    She ran to her friend and grabbed him, pulling him under the shelter of a ruined diner.

    Sam flung his arms around her and said, "I'm sorry I didn't contact you sooner."

    "What happened?" Tahiri asked, "I was starting to worry that you got caught."

    "My dad hasn't found out yet," Sam replied, "but it's only a matter of time. Are you here with anybody else?"

    "Luke and Tionne," Tahiri replied, "Luke figured that more people would be in the line of fire on Chandrilia."

    "He was right," Sam replied, "but I can't believe how many of them are falling for the Coalition's propaganda."

    "We'd better go," Tahiri said, pulling Sam by the hand out of the diner, towards a clearing in the smoke and flames that were tearing through the crevices and alleyways of Hanna City.

    The two of them proceeded onto the street, where the exchanges of blasterfire and the dogfights above had grown faint. Luke and Tionne appeared, evidently running from something.

    A moment later, Tahiri could see them jumping out of the way of several streaks of blasterfire, using the Force to propel themselves.

    Sam raised his weapon while Tahiri turned her lightsaber back on, until they saw the reason why Luke and Tionne weren't figuring back against their pursuers.

    It was Sam's fellow Brigadiers, not the Coalition mercenaries, that were chasing and shooting at the Jedi.

    "No," Tahiri whispered with dread.

    "Stun if you can, kill if you have to!" the commanding officer shouted.

    Suddenly, an impulse seized hold of Tahiri. She grabbed Sam's arm and before he could react, roughly pulled him back into the abandoned restaurant, into the smoking room that had been the kitchen.

    "What are you doing?" Sam asked, his arm pinching.

    "They can't see you with me," Tahiri replied, finally letting go, "or they'll arrest you."

    "Right," Sam replied, nodding unhappily.

    Luke and Tionne were able to outrun the Brigadiers, using the Force to accelerate their speed far beyond normal for adult humans.

    "I'm sure you have to get back with them now," Sam said glumly, still smelling the smoke from where the buildings had been hit by the drone bomb and the lasers from the fighter battles.

    "Listen, Sam, I'm glad I got to see you here, even in a situation as bad as this," Tahiri said.

    "Me too, Sam replied, "I won't wait too long next time to contact you, I promise!"

    "I have to go now," Tahiri said, hurrying away from the kitchen and diner. However, she gave one last look at Sam's hiding place as she hurried to rejoin Tionne and Luke, a sense of longing coming over her before she banished it.

    MORABAND

    Darth Ultor carried the Sith Holocron out of the temple, with the Sith Lord's red, translucent image hovering closely behind him.

    "Once you tell me where Plagueis is, I can go to him under the guise of wanting to be his apprentice," Ultor said to the spirit, "Then, I can bring you back and we can destroy him."

    "Will you keep your end of the deal?" the Bith asked.

    "Once I am through with Plagueis, your body will no longer be an experiment," Ultor replied. "You will be back to prime shape, as a reigning Dark Lord of the Sith. You will no longer have to remain in this artifact or be revived and killed again at his whim."

    The Bith replied, "He is on a remote world called Sojourn, in the far reaches of the Outer Rim."

    "Sojourn," Ultor repeated, "in the Outer Rim."

    "That is where he has taken my body," the Sith of the past continued, "And where he is training the girl."

    "I'll find them both there, then," Ultor replied, "Your information was useful, ancient Lord of the Sith."

    "If we are to reign together as Dark Lords, you should know that I am Darth Tenebrous. You would be the first to find my spirit encased here, if not my body."

    "You have proven useful to me, Lord Tenebrous," Ultor said, "and your information will be my ultimate triumph."

    "Our ultimate triumph," Tenebrous corrected, his large eyes squinting through the red glow of his appearance, "If you intend to keep your end of our bargain."

    Ultor held up the Holocron in front of him, his eyes drilling into Tenebrous with a sneer.

    "You fool!" he said spitefully. He tossed the Holocron into the air and activated his lightsaber, slicing diagonally through the artifact, "Even with your spirit preserved in this Holocron, you are powerlessjust as Sidious was."

    Tenebrous let out a painful howl of defeat, a blast of light bursting through the misty air as his spirit reentered the Netherworld of the Force. Save for Plagueis's midichlorian manipulation, Tenebrous had no way to return to the physical world, much like the late Emperor Palpatine.

    Leaving the two halves of the Holocron in the crimson sand, Ultor started back to his Herald, deactivating his lightsaber as he picked up his speed.

    Ultor finally reached the shuttle, and when he entered and ducked into the cockpit, he began to dispatch a transmission.

    CHANDRILIA

    Four of the Sith Lieutenants regrouped in the rubble of Hanna City's collapsed buildings, away from the battling armies.

    "We lost them again!" Wyyrlok growled.

    "Where's Talon?" Paxis asked, looking around the chaos of the city.

    From her hiding place, Talon was speaking to a miniature hologram of Darth Ultor, still aboard his cockpit

    "I want all of you to meet me on Moraband," Ultor said, his voice barely above an animalistic growl, "Together, we will storm the homeworld of an old Sith Lord, where he is training Kira Solo."

    "Kira Solo, with a Sith Lord?" Talon asked, her eyes widening with curious disbelief.

    "The Sith Lord was thought long dead," Ultor replied, "but I've just learned where he lives, and that the Solo brat is with him. After we find the Sith, we will learn his secrets before eliminating him along with the girl."

    As the other four black-clad apprentices scoured the deserted streets, they were met by a squadron of Brigadier reinforcements from around the corner of the boulevard.

    "Stand down!" the sergeant shouted fruitlessly.

    Within five seconds, five flashes of red light were mowing down the squadron members, with dismembered limbs and heads flying across the street and sidewalk.

    Talon finally emerged from the alleyway, joining the others as they finished off the Republic forces.

    "Skywalker and the others are not far," Paxis said after they had all retracted their sabers, "They're occupied by the Republic trying to capture them as well. Now is our time."

    "Forget Skywalker," Talon replied, "We have new orders from the Dark Master. We are meeting him on Moraband."

    "So that's where he's been?" Wyyrlok said, "Sitting around while we do all the dirty..."

    Wyyrlok stopped short as his throat began to close.

    Paxis and Judicar gasped in horror while Nihl glared at Talon as she pressed her fingertips together, causing Wyyrlok to lift slightly in the air.

    "Think about your next words," Talon hissed, "You don't want to face my wrath or his."

    She let go of Wyyrlok before turning to return to their Infiltrators.

    The other four Sith Lieutenants exchanged dark, sinister looks as they followed Talon.

    Luke fired up the landspeeder as soon as he, Tionne and Tahiri had climbed in, blasting off over the lake in the direction of the distant Blakis.

    "They're getting away," the commander said.

    "Unit one, we'll be pursuing Jedi," Hoff Praxium ordered, "We won't let them leave the planet. Units two through five, stay here and deal with the Coalition. Use all the drones bombers you have to."

    As the men and women of mixed species hurried to where their crafts were docked, Sam pointed at the horizon, where four distinct silver shuttles were blasting out of the smoke towards the glaring sun.

    "Sir, the Sith are getting away too. Are we going to let them go?"

    "The Jedi are our targets for now," the elder Praxium replied, "And Major, you'll be riding with me. That way, I can keep you close and make sure nothing happens."

    Sam narrowed his eyes as his father turned his back and proceeded to the awaiting gunship, following reluctantly. Hoff hadn't spoken out of any concern for his son, Sam knew. He just wanted to make sure Sam didn't do anything to hinder the mission.

    He silently climbed aboard among the Brigadiers, the scenery of the burning Hanna City disappearing behind the slamming blast doors.

    Behind Praxium's gunship, the remaining Coalition mercenaries were consumed by the Republic drones as they exploded, taking several buildings with them or reducing the sturdier skyscrapers to flames

    Tionne looked back at the gunship looming behind them as Luke piloted the landspeeder as far away as he could.

    "How are we going to stop them from following us back home?" she asked.

    "We'll be splitting up and going in three directions to confuse them," Luke replied, "then we'll regroup back at camp. I'll be going to Nar Shadda first."

    "Nar Shadda?" Tionne asked, "Thats a system heavy with a Coalition presence, in the middle of Hutt space."

    "That's why the Republic won't follow," Luke replied.

    "What about Tionne and me?" Tahiri asked.

    "Tionne will be flying with me towards Nal Hutta. You'll be going to a safer system," Luke replied, "Lose them on Sullust, and then when it's safe, make the jump back to quarters."

    Aboard the gunship, Praxium opened the blast doors to shout an order at the pilot.

    "Faster," he commanded, narrowing his eyes at the Jedi.

    Sam watched the fleeing landspeeder as it hopped up and down the mountain slopes, praying that it would be fast enough to escape.

    Suddenly, Hoff Praxium's comlink beeped, and he pressed a button to activate the holoscreen built into the gunship wall.

    The screen displayed the angry face of Senator Mon Mothma, who had taken refuge in her shuttle and fled.

    "Senator, we're in pursuit of the Jedi," Praxium said, "What is it?"

    "I'm afraid your reckless military tactics have left at least two hundred of my people dead," Mothma said, "Drone strikes across the city, that is just unacceptable."

    "Would you rather the Coalition lay it to ruin?" Praxium replied, "We did what had to be done."

    Sam glared at his father's back as Hoff spoke to the holoscreen of the grey-haired Mothma.

    "Your men have the Coalition guerrillas outgunned even without the drones," Mothma replied, "they were a waste of resources and innocent lives."

    Praxium glowered angrily at the screen.

    "You are in no position to criticize the military," he said, "We are not only ridding your cities of the Coalition, but we are dealing with the Jedi. Have you forgotten that they deserted us?"

    "The Jedi were there to help," Mothma replied, "The Coalition Sith Lieutenants would have overrun your forces without them. There was certainly no need for the bombings with their efforts."

    "As I said, we did what we had to," Praxium replied, "And I suggest you don't question my methods again. I could report you to Supreme Commander Omas for Jedi sympathy."

    "You and your warmongering army have far too much power," Mothma declared, furiously condemning Praxium.

    Praxium shut off the communication just as the Brigadier gunship approached the small town of Blakis.

    "The Jedi have disappeared," a Brigadier solider observed, seeing the parked speeder just outside the mountainous town, but no occupants.

    "Land and search the city," Praxium ordered.

    The three Jedi StealthXs were hidden inside a secret hanger beneath the floor level of the safe house in which they had been hiding.

    Throwing their hoods over their faces, Luke, Tionne and Tahiri crept into the narrow crevice leading to their safe house, avoiding attention from the populace.

    "This way, this way," a voice shouted.

    As the Brigadiers hurried out of the gunship and poured into the streets, pedestrians scurried into their dwellings and shops out of fear.

    "Search every establishment," Praxium ordered, "Break and enter if you have to."

    Sam cringed at the thought, deciding not to obey that step.

    "Praxium, lead Green group the south drive, cover that outer village perimeter," his father ordered.

    As the Brigadiers rallied around Sam, he looked at their various faces, failing to see anything but robotic, obedient determination among them. Nobody else was showing any signs of dissent, and it made Sam feel intimidated despite being in command.

    "Cover these two streets," he ordered, nonverbally directing the Wookiee sergeant to go right while he led another unit left.

    As they proceeded into the residential zone, Captain Ponder and two other Brigadiers approached a marble, domed house and began pounding their rifles on the sliding door.

    Sam tried to ignore them as Ponder shouted, "Open up!"

    Another Brigadier was telling the human family in the house across the street, "We are looking for three Jedi fugitives."

    "We haven't seen any," the father replied.

    Still refusing to approach any of the small residencies of the village, Sam suddenly turned to the sound of a small hatch opening, and a loud engine that was drowned out by the sounds of the Brigadiers knocking on doors and shouting at the helpless civilians as to the locations of the hidden Jedi

    Three silver StealthXs were emerging from a hatch built into the ground that revealed a small hangar, blasting quickly into the sky.

    Sam breathed a sigh of relief as his men and women pointlessly continued to interrogate the Blakis residents, spreading out to cover more doors along the streets.

    He stayed quiet as the three Jedi ships began to diverge from one another, launching in different directions.

    "Back to the gunship, after them!" he distantly heard his father shout, and the Wookiee sergeant gave a loud roar as he fired his sniper rifle in the direction of Tahiri's purple-striped StealthX, which was the last to leave the immediate area over town and launch into the horizon.

    Sam said nothing to his own unit, but allowed them to continue searching the nearby homes. His satisfaction was replaced by guilt and shame as he saw small groups of families huddling in fear as his own Brigadiers entered their houses.

    "Hey, Sam!" Ponder suddenly shouted, running up to the end of the block behind him, "Theyre saying that the Jedi just took off in their fighters."

    "Did they?" Sam asked with an air of mild, but indifferent curiosity.

    "Yes, and your dad wants us back in the transport carrier to keep pursuing them."

    Sam could afford to be almost coy, but not quite, given the low chance that they had of actually catching the three escapees.

    "Well, all right," he said. He ran alongside Ponder back to the area where the Brigadiers were passing through homes.

    Raising his voice, Sam shouted, "Back to the gunship, men! We're leaving!"

    He hurried behind the Brigadiers as they ran in two columns back to where the others had already boarded.

    Hoff was glaring at his son as he was the last to board.

    "You and your men are late, Major," Praxium scolded, "the Jedi could be far away by now. What kept you?"

    "Nothing, sir," Sam replied, "I apologize."

    "No time to lose," Praxium replied, turning his back on Sam to enter, "Fire up the engine and take off!"

    The blast doors slammed shut the second Sam climbed aboard, lifting off of the mountainous surface of Blakis.

    In the vacuum of space, a short distance from the surface of Chandrilia, Luke spoke to the others from his SteathX radio. Artoo Deetoo, his trusty astromech and longtime friend, was perched in the droid socket customized to fit him.

    "All right, Tionne, you'l follow my course to Nar Shadda, and we'll lose them there if they follow us. Tahiri, you'll go straight back to camp and report to the other Masters."

    "We should be back within half a day," Tionne promised, "Don't worry about us."

    "Yes, Masters," Tahiri replied, though she felt a tingle of uneasiness nonetheless.

    "All right, Artoo, it could be a hard job to get us through Hutt Space. Are you ready for it?"

    The blue and white droid flashed his red scanner light and whistled his affirmative.

    "You'll see Threepio and the others again in no time," Luke replied, "Set your courses on my count."

    Just as the four Republic gunships were launching out of Chandrilia's atmosphere, regrouping with the Black Ring and the fighters, the three StealthX's took off into hyperspace. with Luke slightly ahead of Tionne and Tahiri veering into another direction.

    Speaking into the communicator of the gunship he and his units were boarded on, Hoff Praxium said to the Black Ring's command station, "Keep your scanners set on the single fighter. Skywalker will most likely send the others away from his hiding place, knowing that we'll follow them."

    "Are you sure that's him, sir?" Sam asked, "It seems more likely to me that he would send Tahiri somewhere while he and Tionne go home together.

    "And what would you know about that?" Praxium asked, frowning suspiciously at his son.

    Sam took the smallest gulp that he could before responding.

    "He'll be expecting us to track him, I mean," he said, "so he'd most likely send Tahiri- I mean, the Padawan- away so she'll be safe while he and the other Master expect us. He'll need her for backup."

    "I see," Praxium replied with a nod, "Either way, you seem awfully familiar with the way they think, son."

    The gunships and fighter assembly flew in a procession under the Black Ring into the entrance of the bottom hull.

    As the Brigadiers hurried out of their crafts, a deck officer hurriedly approached General Praxium.

    "Sir, the Coalition fighters are regrouping at their command ships. Should we engage them?"

    Praxium paused, having forgotten about the Coalition in his pursuit of the Jedi.

    He rushed out of the hangar, into the turbolift with the officer in two.

    Upon reaching the command bridge, Praxium gazed at the Sith Infiltrators reentering the Phantom Revenge, the Syck and Viper fighters reporting to both the command ship and the Hutt Cartel Dor'bulla beside it.

    Aboard the Phantom Revenge, Talon shouted at the black-armored Shadowtrooper crew members, "Set course for Moraband, now!"

    The Phantom Revenge launched into hyperspace, leaving the Hutt Dor'bulla in the dust.

    "Where are they going?" the Nikto commander wondered aloud, standing next to the Toydarian Krunge, who growled in frustration.

    "They cannot abandon us whenever they want!" Krunge grumbled, "This was their mission to begin with! The Hutt Council will hear about this."
     
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  4. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    SOJOURN

    It was early evening at the beach that had once been a popular vacation spot for the wealthy elites.

    Kira and Damask sat on the balcony, sipping a warm drink served by the protocol droid FourDee. After demonstrating his abilities on several more experimental beings, none of whom had shown the same level of lucidity that the Bith had, Damask had declared that such intense effort required rest even for a being as adept as himself.

    And after feeling such raw darkness and inferno from the Force and the collective aura from Damask's experiments, Kira had to admit that she was a little worn out herself.

    "When can I start with the bodies?" Kira asked, "Reanimating them like you did?"

    "Midichlorian manipulation is a dangerous skill to master," Damask replied, "because it requires a high level of midichlorian concentration, and it requires a strong presence of dark energy in your own midichlorians, which you can summon by channeling it. It will take time for you to master the darkness, and allow it to come forth without taking over. You could fall to the dark side completely if you allow its influence to consume you."

    Kira thought about the aura of rage she had felt in the laboratory, and then replied, "For too long, I was cautioned to avoid feeling it, even if I really wanted to. Even if using the dark side meant doing what I was supposed to do, and win. Lately, I've been feeling like nothing I learn from the Jedi will be enough to take down Ultor and the Coalition, and now, now I'm ready to do anything to defeat them. Even if it means embracing the dark side.”

    When Damask looked at her in surprise. Kira elaborated, the emotions of grief and anger beginning to boil inside her as she continued her monologue.

    "Luke held me back too much because he thought I wasn't ready, and then he stopped me from taking revenge when Ultor killed Ben. If getting my revenge means using the dark side, so be it!"

    She felt more impassioned and defiant as she spoke.

    Damask looked both impressed and cautious at once.

    "I know the dark side well," he said, "It can be a powerful tool, or a lethal poison."

    Kira remembered Damask's experimentation on the Bith cadaver in the liquid tank.

    "That creature, that you brought back and killed again, he seemed to know you. He called you Apprentice," she remembered.

    Damask frowned and nodded, closing his sunken eyes.

    "He was my master, in another life," he replied, "I was once a Sith Lord, the same as your grandfather Darth Vader."

    Kira tensed, feeling a burst of discomfort at the mention of Ultor.

    "My grandfather redeemed himself," Kira said defensively, "He became Anakin again before he died, and saved the galaxy from the Emperor. Ultor every bit as evil as Palpatine was."

    "Of course," Damask replied, "As a Sith Lord, you seek the ultimate mastery of the Force, so much that nothing else matters. It consumes their being, turns them into a shadow. But, as your grandfather proved, even the most twisted can turn back and escape from the infinite darkness."

    "You're not a Sith anymore?" Kira asked with a keen interest.

    "I sought power once, and I turned to Darth Tenebrous. He was a master of sorcery, but he sought the secret to immortality. I found it by studying the homeworld of the midichlorians, but before I could tell my master, he attacked me out of jealousy. I had to kill him, and I realized how horrible the dark side was."

    Damask looked sorrowful with regret as he spoke. "That's when I decided to save people with my knowledge, rather than let it fill me with hate. As Darth Plagueis, I took an apprentice of my own, to teach my gift to."

    "Darth Sidious," Kira remembered, "Ultor's ancestor."

    "Trust me, I didn't know what I was getting into," Damask replied, "I searched far across the galaxy for an apprentice who had not been found by the Jedi. Palpatine was a young man from humble origins, with a young wife and child. But he knew he was different from most, he had a powerful gift. Palpatine wanted more than the life he had, and so he sought me out to teach him the ways of the dark side."

    "Skyler is descended from Palpatine," Kira said, filling in the gaps inside her head, "Palpatine's family must have stayed behind and disappeared. That must be why Skyler was found by Master Skywalker, and why he felt the dark side in the first place."

    "It seems as though the darkness in Palpatine did not die with him," Damask replied, "He cared more about power than his own family, and left them to their plight. I was too selfish to even notice. By practicing the secrets I had acquired with my new apprentice, the old greed I thought I had left me returned. It was only when he tried to kill me that I remembered how poisonous the Sith are."

    "The Sith don't care about anybody," Kira said, "Ben was Skyler's best friend, and he cut him down without a second thought. No remorse or hesitation. And he taunted me afterwards." Her previously relaxed hands turned into fists and shook at the memory.

    Damask nodded. "I cared enough about my apprentice to include him in my quest to end death once and for all. I had hoped he would feel the same, but he only wanted power for himself. That is why, after surviving his attempt, I have remained in the shadows, watching everything unfold without intervening."

    "But you have all of these Sith here," Kira said, "And you can bring them all back to life! You could have used them to conquer the galaxy and have your revenge on Palpatine! I know I wouldn't wait for so long. I don't intend to."

    "I could have struck back," Damask replied, "But I realized that the way of the Sith was not worth disrupting the inner peace I finally achieved. But I saw something in you that no Jedi has possessed in generations. You are not afraid of the dark side. You are willing to enact justice with any means necessary."

    Kira nodded, her heart pounding as she agreed with every word the old Muun was saying.

    "I do want justice," she said, "I want to make them all pay for the terror they've caused."

    "My secret can achieve it all," Damask replied, "With the power to control the midichlorians, you will be able to eclipse the powers of Ultor and his enforcers."

    "I want to learn it all," Kira said, "I am ready to learn whatever you have to show me."

    "It will be my pleasure," Damask replied, "but that ability alone will not be enough to defeat the Sith."

    Kira raised her eyebrows with skepticism mingled with her curiosity.

    "What else do I need?"

    "An advantage of the Sith teachings is that they encourage the infinite growth of raw power," Damask replied, "Skill in battle will be needed to match the dark energy of Ultor, skill beyond the meditative ways of the Jedi."

    Kira suddenly sensed a notion of danger. She stood up and looked suspiciously around the balcony, whipping around in the chilly air towards the beach.

    She was proven right when Damask outstretched his bony hand towards the inside of the manor, summoning a Y-shaped lightsaber hilt to him.

    Kira ducked and activated her blue blade as Damask turned on the power of his lightsaber, revealing a bright yellow glow.

    As Damask lunged with his tall frame, Kira brought up her own lightsaber in a defensive horizontal motion, pushing back against Damask's surprisingly strong offensive.

    Damask pulled back his weapon with both hands, then twisted to Kira with strength unnatural for his thin, aged body.

    Kira tried to meet his attack with a more aggressive offense, but the weight of his blow caught her off guard, knocking her off her feet and over the balcony railing.

    Kira hurled through the evening wind and landed with a crack on the sand, her lightsaber knocked slightly out of her sweaty hand.

    Kira grabbed it and hobbled to her feet as Damask jumped off the balcony, still wielding his yellow lightsaber.

    She only had a moment to shake the sand from her robe and hair before Damask made up the ground between them, sweeping his blade in a rapid motion.

    Kira had to clash against his lightsaber twice in order to push it back, her arms practically snapping in half from the effort.

    She hollered with a wave of frustrated energy, rushing at Damask and swinging low towards his long legs.

    Damask pushed her lightsaber hard with his own, the blue and yellow forming an X as the gaseous plasma smell grew closer to Kira's nostrils, the sparks flying directly in front of her face...

    Then, Damask pulled back and abruptly switched off his lightsaber, smiling faintly.

    Kira lunged at Damask with a vicious swipe of her lightsaber, the tip of her blue blade stopping short of the Muun's long head. Kira's arms tired, allowing her blade to waver, close enough for him to practically taste the plasma rod of energy

    "You have the right spirit for the intense training that is to come," Damask remarked, "With some practice, coupled with the midichlorian manipulation, this Ultor will be no match for you."

    Kira stared with confusion at the old man, then turned off her lightsaber with a hollow feeling inside her. She was still panting and trying to catch her breath from the physical effort of fending him off.

    The sun set fully behind her as she walked along side Damask back into the mansion.

    "I was better than all of the other Jedi at the Academy," Kira could not help but reveal without knowing why she thought this was important to say, "Except maybe my friend Tahiri."

    Mentioning her best friend, Kira suddenly became sad, a shadow passing over her lonely heart. She had never been in touch with Tahiri after leaving the Jedi, not daring to hear her best friend plead with her to return. Not after Kira had hurt her so terribly, and not when she still needed to forge her own path.

    Damask seemed to sense his new student's lack of comfort.

    "It won't take long here," he said gently, "Soon enough, you'll see your friends and family again. But when you do, you'll be far stronger and more capable than they thought possible."

    MORABAND SYSTEM

    The Sith cruiser Phantom Revenge snapped out of lightspeed into orbit of Moraband's crimson surface.

    Talon stood surveying the landscape before her on the command bridge, silently feeling her master's presence. She reached out to him with all the devotion inside her. Talon was a Sith, she knew that her goal was power like nobody had known.

    But before being a Sith, Corla Kreshi had been nobody. She had been powerful with the Force from a young age, but Luke Skywalker had passed her by and she had felt as rejected by him as she had by her family and community.

    At least until the Dark Master had found her and made her feel special. She had felt loved in a way that she had thought nobody was capable of, and so she would make sure nothing happened to Ultor.

    Behind Talon, Nihl, Judicar, Paxis and Wyyrlok lurked in the corridor, ignoring the robed Shadowguards armed with saberpikes as well as the armored Shadowtroopers walking by.

    "Ultor's not here," Judicar whispered, eager to avenge Talon's humiliating debriefing on Chandrilia, "and she can't take all four of us."

    "What'll he think when she's not with us?" Judicar asked skeptically.

    "He'll realize that she's not special like he thinks," Paxis replied viciously, her head tentacles whipping back and forth as she looked to their distant target with her back facing them.

    "Besides," Nihl added with his usual bloodlust, "He won't be around for too much longer to think much of it."

    From the crimson surface of Moraband, a lone ship emerged from the bleak emptiness, a Herald-class assault shuttle.

    "The students surpass the master," Nihl declared, pulling his long lightsaber hilt from his robe, "and the golden favorite is brought down to earth."

    The four of them activated their differently-shaped lightsaber blades, and a large wave of red charged onto the command bridge to attack.

    Talon turned and raised her lightsaber hilts, meeting the attacks of Nihl, Judicar, Paxis and Wyyrlok.

    The Coalition personnel hurried as fast as they could away from the command deck, eager to avoid the certain bloodshed to come.

    Wyyrlok and Paxis together pressed against one of Talon's blades, pinning it behind her while Nihl and Judicar attacked from the other side, forcing her to fend them off with one hand.

    Finally, the weight of Nihl's blade allowed him to use it to pry Talon's weapon out of her hand, and he kicked her in the stomach with glee.

    Talon cried out as she fell to the durasteel floor of the command deck, with her other lightsaber being crushed to pieces by Wyyrlok's round, dagger-shaped blade.

    She backed away fearfully as the other four went in for the kill.

    Suddenly, four bodies flew up from the deck and slammed hard against the ceiling, dropping their lightsabers in a hail of flying sparks and cinders that lit up the command bridge and caused a line of fire to become ablaze.

    Nihl, Paxis, Judicar and Wyyrlok went crashing down foolishly on the hard deck as Ultor approached, his face obscured by the hood over his head.

    Talon smiled grateful at her master as she used the Force to recover her still-working lightsaber.

    "This was always bound to happen," Ultor said to his four dissenting apprentices, "and now, I cannot afford to let you live."

    The four of them tried to recover their footing and summon their discarded lightsabers, but Ultor used the Force to take control of the small fire, bringing to closer to his trapped apprentices.

    Nihl, Paxis, Judicar and Wyyrlok backed away and retreated as Ultor sent the flames after them with a raise of both his hands.

    Vengefully, Talon brought her own lightsaber forward with a thrust, stabbing Paxis through the back. The Nautolan screamed as she fell face first into the flames, which Ultor then caused to expand, the smoke filling up the air inside the Phantom Revenge.

    Judicar tried to aim a kick at Talon, but she caught his foot and brought her blade down in a slicing motion.

    Judicar howled in pain as Talon let him fall into the fire, burning painfully along with Judicar's corpse.

    This left Nihl and Wyyrlok.

    The Nagai and human both tried to flee from Talon, making a last ditch effort to retrieve their lightsabers with the Force.

    Ultor interfered, sending the airborne lightsabers into the square hearth of the fire aboard his command ship, causing them to light up in a gaseous explosion.

    Ultor then used the Force to expand flames even further, causing them to tear through Wyyrlok as he dropped his lightsaber and screamed, slowly dying from his rapid burns.

    Nihl, however, managed to jump over the fire.

    He desperately charged at Ultor, his feet dancing around the flames.

    Ultor sent a kick at Nihl before he could strike, causing his apprentice to stumble backwards and land directly in the path of the fire.

    Ultor smiled as Nihl burned along with his fellow traitors, quickly turning to ash.

    Ultor relished the smell of the smoke and ashes drifting into his nostrils, sniffing the toxicity with enjoyment. His devilish grin was illuminated by the growing flames, the smoke consuming the entire room.

    Finally, Ultor allowed the fire to compress, using the Force to shrink the blaze until it was small enough to flicker out.

    Talon walked eagerly over the burnt floor to her master, stepping over the burnt carcasses around her.

    She knelt at her master's feet determinedly, looking up at his haunted face.

    "Master, I am ever loyal, and ready to devote myself to you in every way."

    "I know, and that is why I am willing to share the secrets I am about to uncover with you alone," Ultor replied, giving Talon's twin head tentacles a pat, "I have discovered information that will bring more power than the universe has ever seen. With it, we can cheat death and our enemies to their knees in an instant."

    "What must we do to use it?" Talon asked.

    "I know where the Master I have been seeking is," Ultor replied, "With the knowledge he possesses, we will destroy the living Jedi and we will no longer have use for these crime syndicates that make up the Coalition. We can crush them and achieve our victory with the Force alone."

    "I look forward to it all, Master," Talon replied, "Especially ruling with you the way I always dreamed."

    "You were always special, in a way that nobody else could hope to be," Ultor replied, "With my training, you've proven that there's nothing you can't do."

    Suddenly, the built-in holoprojector on the ceiling beeped, and displayed the large, transparent head of Krunge, the Hutt Cartel majordomo.

    "Dark Master!" Krunge bellowed, "The Hutts must speak to you now!"

    "How dare you disturb me now!" Ultor yelled, immediately losing his composure.

    Talon rose to her feet and stood protectively at his side, crossing her arms in defiance of the intruder.

    "Your Lieutenants had no right to abandon the siege on Chandrilia!" Krunge snapped, "Dozens of our best mercenaries and assassins, dead to Republic drone bombs! And your Lieutenants left us to fight and lose the battle you wanted to wage!"

    "You do not question me!" Ultor yelled, raising a hand in rage.

    Talon gently stroked his back before beginning to rub his shoulders. This gradually calmed Ultor down, allowing him to regain his composure his heavy breathing slowing down and his reddened face regaining its normal pale color.

    "With respect, the Dark Master has a great many important things to deal with," Talon said, "and we promise that your efforts will be rewarded in due time."

    "You've said that before," Krunge replied.

    The orange Toydarian was suddenly pushed aside by a young, undersized Hutt, who was then joined by the bespectacled Gorga.

    The new Hutt bellowed in Huttese at the two Sith, shaking his tiny, slimy fists.

    "What my cousin Rotta is trying to say, is that you have done the Hutt Clans a great disservice," Gorga said in perfect Basic, "It will take a lot to make up for this."

    "What if we promised you Tatooine, and all of Jabba's old territory," Talon inquired appeasingly, "You will have as much control in the Outer Rim as you do in Coruscant's underbelly, and in the existing Hutt Systems."

    "How do we know you won't desert us again?" Rotta demanded.

    "The might of the Coalition was able to penetrate Republic defenses on Coruscant," Talon replied, "We will help you storm the desert world of Tatooine, and reclaim every asset that Jabba once had there."

    "Is that a promise?" asked Gorga, squinting behind his large glass frames.

    "You have the word of the Sith," Talon replied.

    Once the communication had ended, Talon gave her master's arm a comforting squeeze.

    "Once we discover the secrets that are waiting for us, we won't have to play nice with filth like them."

    "I look forward to it," Ultor replied, "We will crush them without mercy, just like all others who stand in our way."

    TATOOINE

    Although Tahiri had grown up here and knew most of its sights, she felt no sense of home from the planet itself when she took in the familiarity of the vast desert world of Tatooine.

    The civilization of the Tusken Raiders had been an entirely different reality from what Tahiri now knew, and it was one she was loathe to ever return to.

    Tahiri had felt welcomed by and more at home with the Jedi than even her birth parents, who had been very much in tune with the anti-Jedi sentiment among Tusken Raiders.

    They had cast her out into the harsh desert of Tatooine, and Tahiri had been left to fend for herself until Luke Skywalker had found her and taken her to train as a Jedi.

    Tahiri knew deep down that her parents had on some level been trying to protect her from the rest of their tribe putting her to death for her abilities, but nonetheless, she had never been able to stop resenting them.

    As Tahiri piloted her StealthX into the blue sky of Tatooine over the endless Dune Sea, she allowed the familiar, ever coming and going anger to pass through her, before disappearing into the oblivion where it belonged.

    Only the present mattered, Tahiri told herself, and it didn't matter how close she was to her most traumatic experience. Her life had changed infinitely since the day Luke had found her thirsting and starving, and she was stronger for it.

    Tahiri began to touch down near a medium-sized igloo next to a series of moisture vaporators and a round-shaped entrance leading below the surface level of the sand layers into a dwelling.

    Aside from the original Lars family home under their moisture farm, Luke had crafted a secret hangar underground where the exiled Jedi stored their craft, including the StealthXs and consular Corvettes they had brought during the evacuation from Ossus.

    Tahiri landed her craft in the hangar below the ground level, next to the Millennium Falcon, which stood out starkly among the many Jedi vessels.

    As soon as Tahiri climbed out of her fighter, the hatch to the Falcon slid open, and the sound of a Wookiee yell proceeded three figures emerging.

    Tahiri eagerly rushed to greet Han, Leia and Chewbacca.

    "You're back," Han said with a smile, "Hope you didn't run into any trouble."

    "Just the usual," Tahiri replied, giving each of them a quick hug, "a group terrorists and a government army that wants us dead or alive."

    Han and Leia could not help but chuckle at the irony, despite the bitterness of their situation.

    "Is Luke coming back soon?" Leia asked, "And Tionne?" Given their sibling bond enhanced by a deep Force connection, there was no doubt on Leia's mind that her brother was safe despite his missing status.

    "He and Tionne took a detour, just to keep the Republic fleet guessing," Tahiri replied, "Hopefully they'll shake them off before coming back."

    "Knowing Luke, he will," Han said, "He'll be all right."

    The four of them proceeded from the hangar, where Threepio was waiting by the entryway.

    "Oh, Mistress Tionne!" Threepio exclaimed, "I am glad to see you all right. If I may ask, I hope Artoo hasn't gotten Master Luke into any trouble?"

    "I'm sure they'll be okay," Tahiri replied with a rueful smirk as they walked up the steps onto the hot surface.

    "Being back here brings back such memories," Threepio commented as he followed them up onto the ground level.
     
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  5. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    NAR SHADDAA

    Predictably, the Hutt-controlled systems were wrought with Coalition vessels, including at least a dozen Dor'bulla ships circling between the moons of Nal Hutta.

    Processions of Syck fighters and Hawk gunships sailed between the Dor'bulla, while also flying into and out of the foggy atmosphere of the Hutt Cartel homeworld.

    Fortunately, the Jedi StealthXs were designed to keep out of sight when not engaging in combat, and Luke and Tionne both bypassed the blockade before flying in the direction of the next closest world, Nar Shaddaa. Nar Shaddaa's history was heavily intertwined with the Hutts and the rest of the criminal underworld, and their presence had not changed with the rise of the New Republic.

    "Remember, we don't want to look for any trouble," Luke said, leading the way towards the distant sphere of Nar Shaddaa. The industrial pollution of the planet outstripped even that of Coruscant, and the factory smoke was visible throughout the planet surface.

    "We'd better hope trouble doesn't find us instead," Tionne remarked, looking at the Dor'bulla orbiting around Nar Shaddaa, accompanied by at least two dozen Sycks.

    "This means you too, Artoo," Luke said to the droid in his StealthX's customized socket.

    Artoo beeped in protest.

    "I know you never go looking for trouble, I just want to make sure you remember."

    "I have a bad feeling about this," Tionne said as they flew low, edging closer to the planet's south pole, "It looks like those ships are all massing together."

    "Don't worry about it, whatever they're doing," Luke replied, watching as the Dor'bullas and Sycks began to slowly group in a single armada, "Once we land, we'll make sure nobody's following us, and then we'll make the jump back to Tatooine."

    The Hutt Council members had each boarded one of the Cartel's command vessels.

    In their large, accommodating quarters, each Clan member spoke via holoconference in an assembly, their bulky, sluglike projections forming a circle.

    Grappa the Hutt asked in his native language, "Where are the Dark Master and his Sith Lieutenants? Have they deserted us again?"

    "We don't need them to take back Jabba's assets on Tatooine," replied the mustached Marlo, "We have a strong fleet and team of mercenaries."

    "But the rumors of Jedi hiding on Tatooine," countered Grappa, "One of our spies spotted a bunch of young ones training with their laserswords in the salt flats."

    "We shall contact the Dark Master," Gorga mediated, "and if he proves himself unworthy, we will proceed without him with all of our firepower."

    Gorga's Weequay aide pressed a few buttons on the holotable's control panel, making the Hutt Council's holograms disappear.

    They were replaced by the two figures of Ultor and Talon, standing side by side.

    "What do you want?" Ultor growled.

    "The Hutt Council wishes to see if you intend to proceed with the invasion of Tatooine," Gorga said with a scowl.

    "I have a mission of my own," Ultor replied, "One that will take priority over your criminal games."

    "You dare speak to me that..." Gorga's eyes widened as he realized that he was putting his own life in grave danger, even remotely. The Hutt leader changed his tune and said calmly, "Very well, Dark Master. We will wait patiently for you."

    Without a reply, Ultor waved his hand to telekinetically sever the transmission.

    Gorga turned his slimy head to address the rest of the Council.

    "The Dark Master has become a liability to the Hutts and our syndicates," he said in his native Huttese.

    "Once our use for him is fulfilled, we'll dispose of him for his insolence," Grappa replied.

    SOJOURN

    Damask had put Kira to work in another basement underneath his resort home. This facility contained an elaborate training course filled with shifting platforms that slid into the walls, swinging pikes that threatened to impale Kira, and panels on the floor that became electrically charged at random. Thus, Kira could not remain in one place for too long.

    The training was reminiscent in aesthetic of the obstacle courses she had been through at the Ossus academy under Luke Skywalker, but already, Kira could feel the difference in rigor.

    As she jumped from one sliding surface to the next in order to avoid falling onto the electrical floor, Kira allowed her mind to drift away from the task at hand, back to the midichlorian manipulation she had witnessed.

    She wanted that power- to control life and death themselves. Kira couldn't imagine how Damask could have come by the abilities she had witnessed him demonstrate, but she wanted in.

    As the plate below Kira retracted into the wall, she sprang with a vigorous yell, grabbing the bar that hung from atop the ceiling.

    In her mind, however, Kira was in the heat of battle, cutting down enemies with greater ease than even Luke Skywalker could imagine. Coalition mercenaries, droids, and even Ultor's apprentices, before coming to the Dark Master himself.

    She continued through the obstacle course for several minutes until reaching the exit, where the frail but towering Damask was waiting for her, 11-4D at his side.

    "How did I do?" the young Jedi renegade asked eagerly.

    ""Your reflexes haven't lost edge, out of practice as you may be," Damask replied.

    "What about the midichlorian training?" Kira asked trying to restrain her panting in spite of her struggle for air, "When do I start that?"

    She was red in the face and sweating a waterfall that trickled down her hair, but she felt as ready for more as anybody could.

    Damask smiled faintly and replied,"Let us begin."

    Down in the laboratory, Kira once again took in the sight of the Sith cadavers that Damask had collected, resting in their tanks with varying degrees of organic preservation.

    Some were little but bones while others had their full life-like appearance intact.

    Kira would soon have control over their lives, she realized, once she learned the secrets of midichlorian manipulation. These once- powerful and devastating beings would depend entirely on her. Ultor wouldn't stand a chance with such power at her command.

    Damask tapped the controls to a tank that consisted of a lifeless Zabrak, who looked oddly frail and muscular at the same time. The Zabrak reminded Kira of a droid simulation she had fought once, but this cadaver had yellow skin under its black tattoos that indicated Dathomirian Nightbrother heritage.

    "This is a specimen I found buried on Dathomir," Damask explained, "He was from the old witch clans wiped out during the Clone Wars. He was a Force to be reckoned with when enhanced by Nightsister magic, but relatively weak on his own. His midichlorian count won't be too daunting for you to start off with."

    Kira studied the cadaver with a tinge of repulsion at his pitiful state, but knew that it was a stepping stone to her victory.

    "I'm going to try it first," Damask told her, "As I do, try and sense my motions with the Force- feel the ways in which I affect the life forces inside this creature."

    Kira nodded, impatiently waiting for her mentor to begin.

    Damask closed his eyes and extended a bony hand towards the tank that contained the tattooed Zabrak.

    He seized control of the resting midichlorians inside the being, yelling at them to wake up.

    "Pay attention to the midichlorians inside," Damask said, "They have minds of their own, and minds can be manipulated to no end with the right skill behind it."

    Kira thought about these words, wondering if she herself was just as vulnerable to outside manipulation with the right influence compared to the tiny midichlorians. Could the proper amount of Force power cause her to do anything against her own will?

    Slowly, life began to return to the deceased Zabrak. His organs and tissue began to revive, as did his cells and blood vessels.

    "Can you feel it?" Damask asked Kira, "The control over life and death?"

    Kira nodded, concentrating intensely on the process.

    "You really can bring back the dead," she said.

    The Zabrak finally began to regain consciousness inside the liquid tank, looking blankly around the laboratory and at his fellow experiments.

    "Where...am...I?" he asked wearily.

    "It's all right, Savage," Damask said in a soothing voice, "You're safe now."

    "Brother?" asked the Zabrak named Savage.

    "No," Damask whispered.

    To Kira, he said, "Now stay with me as I reverse the process, draining his life energy. His functions will shut down and his spirit will return to the Netherworld from which his midichlorians pulled him out."

    Kira could not help but wonder if this wasn't the least bit inhumane. As she sensed Damask work his magic on the Zabrak once again, she felt a touch of pity for the helpless creature. And here she was, seeking to have the same ability to control another being's life at will.

    "You're killing him," she said. She did not say it in a way that demanded that Damask stop, she was merely observing what he was doing. Kira felt very meek all of the sudden in the presence of such an ability, even though she had seen Damask do the same to the Bith named Tenebrous.

    "Essentially, yes," Damask replied calmly.

    "The power to take away somebody's life at will...I don't know if that's right," Kira said, with a reservation that had seemed to come from nowhere.

    "Remember your enemy," Damask reminded her, "and what he had done. What he will do if he is not stopped."

    Kira nodded, telling herself that she could not afford to hesitate, or to show mercy the way the Jedi has taught her to. She was not bound by their dogma anymore.

    "I'll be ready to kill him when the time comes," Kira replied, "No matter what it takes."

    "Yes, you know that you can't show mercy, even if the methods are brutal in nature," Damask replied, "and now, it is your turn."

    Kira looked nervously from the dead Zabrak to Damask, who was watching her with his sunken black eyes.

    "Go on," he urged softly, "Concentrate on his life forces, waiting to be reactivated. All it takes is just the right push."

    Kira returned her focus to the dead body in the tank, extending her hand and trying to sense life inside his remains.

    She dug deep into the living Force, finding nothing inside at first. His organs were completely shut down, there was no heartbeat or brain function.

    "I can't sense anything," Kira said, "He's just dead."

    "Look beyond the physical matter," Damask replied, "We are all more than just that."

    Kira had heard that somewhere before, but she wasn't sure where at the moment. It didn't matter, she decided, as she searched harder for the lingering energy within.

    She thought of the world that was invisible to living beings, the one that connected her and everybody she knew to the Force: including those who could not use it, such as her father and Sam.

    There was something that gave her the abilities that she was now expanding, something or someone had made a conscious decision to instill the potential for powerful use of the Force within her.

    Finally, Kira sensed a twinkle of light in the abyss. Living beings, invisible to the eyes, idly resting. They were barely perceptible, but abundant in the thousands. Not just in herself, but in Damask, and all of the bodies that had once been powerful Force users.

    Finally, the Zabrak's midichlorians began to respond to Kira's commands. Only a few at a time did, but enough to the point where Kira could detect the faintest signs of life returning to the experimental property.

    "Good, even more now," Damask said hoarsely.

    Kira summoned even more of her own strength, screaming internally at the midichlorians to wake up and do their jobs.

    She sensed activity within the Zabrak's midichlorians, but it was still very faint and limited. They were not responding to her commands other than meekly acknowledging their own existence.

    Kira growled in frustration, trying to yank as much of her own raw power out as possible.

    "Why isn't...this...working?" she grunted.

    Damask watched passively, silently drifting his attention elsewhere.

    He sensed very big trouble literally on the horizon, but he hoped that the girl didn't sense it yet. A dark shadow of evil was looming over the entire planet, one that was sure to spell doom.

    "Stay focused on your task," Damask instructed, "Do not think about anything else. That is the key to success."

    Kira nodded noncommittally and turned back to the Zabrak, channeling her internal vigor and will.

    Answer me! she screamed on the inside.

    Damask strode across the aisle of tanks, 11-4D silently following.

    The Muun stopped at a tank that contained a green male Twi'lek, who was about an equal mix of flesh and bone.

    Damask concentrated on the midichlorians inside the Twi'lek, willing them to revive the late Sith Lord.

    "Darth Malten," he said offhandedly, "The Master of my predecessor."

    Malten's flesh returned to his bones, and slowly, his organs began to revive.

    Kira turned her attention from the Zabrak to Damask's experiment, glowering at him as he successfully brought the Twi'lek back from the dead.

    "There's something you're not telling me," Kira said, only expressing a hint of anger, "about the technique. What are you keeping from me?"

    "You are only a beginner, young Solo," Damask replied, "it will take time."

    He's starting to sound like a Jedi, Kira thought to herself with a hint of scorn. She wrinkled her nose as Damask turned back to his experiment and put his aged hand on the Twi'lek's forehead.

    "Now watch the final step of midichlorian manipulation, and see the powers of the living Force in full effect," Damask rasped.

    Kira sensed a wave pounding against the surface of Damask's locked chest, a wave filled with repressed darkness and rage.

    She sensed Damask channel that rage as he applied his manipulation to the Twilek's mind.

    The Twi'lek that had just woken up stared at Damask from inside the glass.

    "Are you ready to serve the will of the Force?" Darth Plagueis asked.

    Inside the tank, Malten silently nodded.

    "Good," Damask replied, "Soon you will reassume your position as the Dark Lord of the Sith."

    He pressed the tiny button that opened the glass panels to the tank and caused the liquid inside the flow into tubes that connected them to the plumbing.

    The Twi'lek, dressed in humble robes, slowly climbed out, assisted by Damask.

    The pure evil that Damask had exuded a moment ago seemed to vanish, and his kind, unassuming demeanor returned.

    "Kira, Lord Malten and I are going to take a short journey. You will stay here and continue to work on the technique. Once you have brought our fallen friend Savage back to life, you can take a break and enjoy the sun."

    Kira gazed curiously at the Twi'lek Malten, and back at Damask.

    "Where are you going?" she asked.

    "Just an errand," Damask replied, "Practice makes perfection."

    He started out of the laboratory, and back up the stairs with 11-4D and the limping Malten in tow.

    Kira stated into the blackened passageway through which Damask, the revived Sith, and the droid had disappeared, frowning with suspicion. Something was not right, she told herself, and she hoped that she wouldn't have to find out what before she was ready.

    She supposed that it would be best to try again. Kira turned back to the Zabrak named Savage and concentrated on the midichlorians inside him, commanding them to activate once again.

    NAR SHADDAA

    The two Jedi StealthX's glided into the gaseous, polluted atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa, still managing to avoid the Hutt Cartel and Coalition-affiliated vessels passing through the traffic lanes.

    "This way," Luke said to Artoo, transmitting the trajectory to Tionne's fighter.

    "How long are we going to stay here?" Tionne asked, "Even if we hide ourselves from the Cartel mercenaries indefinitely, I don't think we can avoid the Sith Lieutenants."

    "I don't think we'll need to worry about them again," Luke replied.

    They flew out of the mob-ruled city limits towards the entrance leading into a metallic tunnel, allowing their StealthXs to blend in with traffic.

    It was several minutes before they emerged into a less busy part of Nar Shaddaa's large metropolitan area, and before long, they arrived at a spaceport that looked humble enough to avoid attention from the Hutts.

    "We'll be safe there for a while," Luke said, "Then we'll go home."

    The Jedi landed in the small, dirty hangar, which was nearly vacant except for a few freighter-class vehicles.

    "It's been abandoned," Tionne observed, "a little too quiet, maybe?"

    "We won't be here long, just until we know the Coalition and the Republic is off our backs," Luke replied.

    He and Tionne climbed out of their fighter cockpits, but Luke gestured for Artoo to stop as he began to lift himself out of his droid socket.

    "You'd better stay hidden, Artoo," he said, "we don't want to attract any unwanted notice."

    Artoo whistled an indignant protest in reply.

    BLACK RING

    Sam was walking out of the briefing room of the command ship Black Ring when Trix Azer hurried up to him.

    "Major, did you see what's going on on the command deck?" she asked urgently.

    "No, I didn't, what?" Sam asked with only the faintest touch of interest.

    "You'd better come see," Trix replied breathlessly, gesturing Sam along.

    When Sam reached the command bridge with Trix, he froze in shock at the sight.

    His father, General Praxium, was in the middle of addressing an odd assortment of armed people. Sam immediately recognized the giant Gen'Dai Durge among them, realized that they must have been bounty hunters.

    "What in the name of blazes..." Sam gritted his teeth with anger at the sight. He strained to listen to what Hoff was telling them.

    "As you know, the Republic forces are spread thin across the galaxy dealing with the Coalition," the general was saying, "but the Jedi pose as much a danger as ever to Republic security. This is why I am employing you to find them and deal with them as best as you can. Even if you don't capture them all, they will be damaged enough for us to snuff out the rest."

    "I don't believe it," Sam whispered, staring in horror as his father addressed the hunters, "He's got bounty hunters, and some of them work for the Coalition."

    "Deadly force may be necessary in dealing with the Jedi," Hoff continued, "and so in that case, you may kill them if you have to. They are some of the most brutal thugs imaginable, although many of you have experience in facing off against them."

    "Yeah, working for the Sith and the gangsters," Sam muttered derisively.

    He saw suddenly that the assembly of hunters was starting to disband. He hurried away as a small band of them started towards the entrance.

    Instinctively, Sam dove for cover in a turbolift. He was about to slam on the panel to shut it when someone joined him.

    He stared hard at a medium-sized tattooed woman wearing Mandalorian armor and a jet pack entered and shut the turbolift door.

    "Remember me?" Ailyn Fett asked with a playful smirk, "It's been a long time, Captain."

    "Yes," Sam replied, "You couldn't manage to hold on to a teenage girl."

    "And you couldn't rescue her by yourself," Ailyn replied, jabbing Sam in the ribs with her steel elbow, "I hear you're Major now. Does your daddy know that you're still friends with the Jedi?"

    "What he knows is none of your business, bounty hunter," Sam retorted, "I don't know why he's doing business with filth like you. Weren't you working for the Coalition?"

    "My allegiance goes where the money is," Ailyn replied, laughing, "any respectable bounty hunter, assassin, or mercenary would say the same."

    "That's why you have no principles," Sam growled, full of contempt, "none of you do. You have nothing to fight for."

    TATOOINE

    The remaining Jedi Masters and Knights were gathered inside the circular underground opening, listening to Tahiri's briefing.

    "Masters Skywalker and Tionne are taking a detour to the Hutt Systems to avoid the trail of any Coalition or Republic spies," Tahiri explained, "With luck, they will be back safely before too long."

    "If they are followed by Coalition ships, us Jedi may have to leave Tatooine," Master Glut Nodlad said, "We are running out of places to hide."

    "Maybe we've been running for too long," Leia Organa Solo spoke up, "Maybe it's time we wait for the Coalition to find us, and actually beat them this time."

    Everyone looked with slight surprise at Leia. She was calm, but her voice betrayed a hint of raw, numb grief.

    She had lost more than perhaps anyone to the Coalition, and the dark order that ran it.

    "Master Solo," Master Kahn said gently, "I'm not sure we're equipped to battle the entire Coalition, and whatever thugs for hire they have in store, not with all the Younglings here."

    Han spoke up to the assembled Jedi. "Then we hide them, and have everyone who's able to fight on the front lines. I agree with my wife here. I think this status quo has gone on long enough."

    "We all want to end the war," Nodlad said, "But we're at an increasing disadvantage against both the Republic and the Coalition."

    "They're against each other too," a younger Jedi named Jysella Terrik spoke up, "The Republic isn't likely to team up with the Cartels. What if we used that to our own advantage."

    "We should wait for Master Skywalker before taking any serious action," Nodlad concluded, "His counsel will be our greatest asset in carving a path forward."

    "All I know is that we can't hide out forever," Han said.

    Tahiri looked down, worrying about everything all at once. There was too much at stake, and still too much wrong for the war to end the right way in the near future.

    They were just still too deep in the hole.

    Several minutes later, the assembly had disbanded, and Leia was climbing the staircase onto the sandy surface overlooking the hot blue horizon.

    Han slowly climbed up to join her, shuffling his feet as he approached.

    Wrapping an arm around his wife's shoulders, Han asked, "Honey, what's wrong? Is it Luke?"

    "No, Luke's okay," Leia replied distantly, "I just have this feeling, about Kira."

    Han froze and stared in horror. "Leia, what happened? Did something happen to our daughter?"

    Leia choked for a second, thinking of the terrible possibility that Han had just hinted at, and then turning her thoughts to their son Ben.

    "No, I would sense it if it did," Leia replied, on the verge of tears, "but I just have this feeling that wherever she is, she's not safe. She needs guidance."

    "What about Anakin?" Han asked, "She's always had a special Jedi ghost bond with him."

    "I'm not sure what even he can do now," Leia replied, "It's up to Kira whether or not to accept anybody's help."

    Insider her personal quarters, Tahiri Veila activated her small holoprojector, communicating across a long distance with Captain Sam Fel Praxium.

    "Glad to see you made it back okay," Sam said from the Black Ring, "Did the others make it?"

    "No, they took the long way," Tahiri replied, "How's the military business treating you?"

    "That's what I wanted to talk about," Sam said urgently, "My father has hired bounty hunters to go after the Jedi."

    "Bounty hunters?" Tahiri asked, "Why would he want to deal with them?"

    "He and Vizier Omas really have it in for you guys," Sam replied grimly, "Some of these bounty hunters have ties to Tatooine. So I just want to say, be careful."

    Inside her Firespray class ship Slave II, Ailyn Fett snickered as she listened to the conversation, playing out on her recorder.

    "Anybody in particular we should be worried about?" Tahiri asked.

    "There's this really big one, a Gen'Dai named Durge. He fought for the Separatists in the Clone Wars, and Kira and I barely escaped him before. There's also Ailyn Fett, she kidnapped Kira a long time ago for the Coaltion."

    "That's right, you good little boy," Ailyn laughed.

    "Sam, how long do you think this will last?" Tahiri asked, her frame of mind shifting to the long term. "All this hiding, and the war, and hatred between the Jedi and the Republic."

    Sam shook his head sadly. "I don't know," he replied. "I do know that the aggressive sentiments against the Jedi are deeply rooted into the system. The Republic is still new, and its leadership feels threatened by any challenge to its power."

    "But the Jedi are about keeping peace," Tahiri replied, "We protect the free galaxy by preventing violence."

    "That's the problem," Sam replied, "Most of the Senate believes that violence is the only way to keep the status quo."

    "I just want it to be over," Tahiri said, knowing that she was sounding puerile and that her ramblings were ultimately fruitless, "I don't want to keep hiding, and I want Kira to come back and not be hurt anymore. I want the Coalition to go away forever, and the Sith."

    "We've beaten the forces of evil before, and we can again," Sam replied. He was not speaking of himself, but of the Republic and those who believed in the values of democracy and safety from terror.

    "It just feels so hopeless," Tahiri said.

    "I know it does," Sam replied with a sigh, "But hope has always been our secret weapon. We can't give up on it now."
     
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  6. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    NAR SHADDAA

    Luke and Tionne had docked their StealthXs under the cover of the shadows of a dark alley, down in the depths of Nar Shaddaa's underbelly.

    Here, innocent locals and honest smugglers often hid from the activities of the Hutt Cartel and their wide web of hired guns. It would suit the Jedi for a temporary rest stop.

    As Tionne sat deep in meditation outside her fighter, Luke trailed off a short distance away, with Artoo following about ten meters back.

    "I don't know how well I can lead, as the Grand Master," he said, "I'm supposed to be guiding the other Jedi, but I feel just as lost as they do."

    As Luke had expected, a shimmering apparition of a deceased Jedi Master appeared, the short, wrinkled, green figure of Yoda.

    "All knowing, the Grand Master is not," Yoda replied, "know everything, I did not, even as the leader of the Jedi Order. More knowledge, and wisdom too, there always is to acquire."

    "This situation feels impossible, Master Yoda," he said, "I dare not lose hope, but the Jedi are in bad shape. The Republic is out to get us, and we still have the Coalition and its leaders on our trail."

    "With the Republic or the Coalition, your real problem is not," Yoda replied, "A Jedi must only worry about what he can control. Elsewhere, your true worries lie."

    Luke nodded, immediately knowing what Yoda was referring to.

    "I let Kira down," he said, "She's gone because I failed to teach her as well as you and Ben would have. I couldn't instill the Jedi way within her, and it cost us all."

    "Kira's not gone yet," Anakin Skywalker chimed in, appearing alongside Master Yoda, "She's just gone down the wrong path a little. But she is still motivated by good in her heart."

    "She's shut me out, and everyone else too," Luke lamented, "I don't want to let Han and Leia down."

    "Choose their own paths, all apprentices will," Yoda said, "to teach all the wisdom they have learned, a master's job is. But even with all the knowledge possible, our fate is determined by our character above all else."

    "And it was you, son, who taught me that even in the murkiest depths, we can always turn back to the light," Anakin amended.

    "Proved me wrong, you did," Yoda added.

    Luke bowed his head humbly and gazed up into the night sky, where the air traffic seemed light.

    "I do see the light, somewhere ahead," he said, "I just don't know how much closer we can get to it. Skyler is only getting more powerful, and he's turned the galaxy against the Jedi. I thought that once we destroyed the Empire, the Force would allow for peace."

    "Peace is never a constant, Luke" a third voice said, and the shimmering visage of Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared in between his former Padawan and his old Master. "That is why the Jedi always needed. The dark side always seeks to expand its power, and that is why the Jedi must continue to resist it."

    "The Jedi Order still has a good fighting spirit left," Luke replied, "I see it in the new generation of Knights as they take the field. But I don't know that I can lead us to victory."

    "Finish the fight, you may not," Yoda conceded, his ghostly face forming a serene expression amid his deep wrinkles, "But ensure that the future of the Jedi and the galaxy is safe, you still can. Always possible, victory is, even if us Masters do not live to see it."

    "You've raised the Jedi Order to become as strong as ever, Luke," Obi-Wan said, "Without your leadership, it would not have lasted this long. You've passed on as much as we've taught you, and your legacy will survive through the Jedi that you've taught, just as ours life's through you."

    "I know, Master," Luke replied, "and I won't fail you. Any of you. I will make sure that the Jedi Order does not die. It will live on beyond me."

    "And you remember the final secret that we've taught you, as well," Anakin said, "With the Jedi's greatest gift, our victory is certain."

    Luke smiled knowingly, bowing once more to the Jedi spirits. The trio returned the gesture before fading away into the night.

    Artoo nuzzled up his domed head against Luke's thigh, whistling softly.

    "Don't worry, Artoo, we're not sticking around here any longer," the Grand Master declared, "We're going home."

    HYPERSPACE

    The Black Ring had arrived along the border between the Mid Rim systems and the Outer Rim at the same time that the rest of the fleet hopped out of lightspeed, effectively creating a blockade between the two Rims.

    The incoming Coalition attack, however, was far from General Praxium's mind as he addressed the holographic images of the bounty hunters he was dispatching across the galaxy.

    "You'll have no trouble finding the Jedi in the Outer Rim," he said, "There will be plenty for the lot of you to find, so the rewards will be considerable for each of you."

    Once the bounty hunters had disappeared, Praxium switched his holotable's channel to address the fleet of officers who now appeared via hologram.

    "For now, we will keep our units at the ready," Hoff explained, "The Coalition will not be expecting our counterattack. With luck, we will cripple the Hutt Cartel fleet enough to finish them off."

    Throughout the corridors of every Republic cruiser, uniformed Brigadiers rushed to assume their positions and line up in assembly.

    The Black Ring was especially busy with activity as troopers and officers rushed into the hangar, gunships and fighters stationed in preparation to launch at a moment's notice.

    Major Sam Praxium was among the officers hurrying into the main hangar, preparing for the battle to come.

    Sam was surprised by a blaster striking him in the back. As he stumbled forward in confusion, a stun baton whacked him in the back, causing him to feel an electrical current run through his arms and legs.

    Sam could not cry out to match the pain his body was feeling as he fell onto the steel floor, several pairs of feet surrounding him.

    "Look what I caught in the wild," Ailyn Fett sneered.

    Sam could only let out a groan as his own comrades and soldiers grabbed him by the arms and hoisted him up.

    Hoff waited as the Brigadiers brought Sam to him, Ailyn Fett following behind them smugly.

    "What is going on?" Sam demanded.

    "You tell me, son," Hoff replied, nodding to the woman behind Sam.

    Ailyn pulled out a round holoprojector and flicked a small button.

    Sam's hologram appeared from his earlier conversation with Tahiri, and he said the words, "My father has hired bounty hunters to go after the Jedi."

    Sam raged on the inside as his father stooped furiously in front of his face.

    "Openly conspiring against me with the Jedi," the general growled, "My own son committing treason against the Republic."

    Sam was starting to lose the numbness affecting his limbs.

    "The Jedi are not the enemy," he said sullenly, "They oppose the Coalition as strongly as we do."

    "But they do not stand with us," Praxium replied, "There is no room for anything less than full support of any Republic military operation in times of war. Anything short of support is considered treason and should be dealt with accordingly. That is why the Jedi are to be punished, as are you."

    "What are you going to do with me?" Sam challenged.

    "You're going to Coruscant to be prosecuted," Hoff replied, "Just as any Jedi sympathizer should be. Supreme Commander Omas will not likely treat you with leniency."

    To the Brigadiers who had captured Sam, Hoff Praxium said, "Get him out of here."

    His eyes narrowed with disgust as the men dragged his son out of the hangar.

    TATOOINE

    Huttese Dor'bulla vessels began to appear in orbit of Tatooine in harmonic formation, surrounded by hundreds of Syck fighters and Hawk gunships.

    Inside the lead ship, Rotta the Hutt spoke with the towering, full-color hologram of Durge.

    "The Republic army has offered a price for the Jedi," Durge was saying, "But I am willing to hand them over to you for another amount."

    "What use would a Jedi prisoner be to the Hutts?" Rotta asked in his native Huttese, "It is the Sith who are after the Jedi, and they are no longer allied with the Council."

    In spite of Rotta being flanked by the blue-coated protocol droid D3-RS, Durge understood the young Hutt perfectly.

    "There are several dozen Jedi on Tatooine, according to my readings," he replied, "Think of how valuable just one would be to the Republic, or to the Dark Master. The profit would be beyond compare from both sides."

    Rotta used his tiny hand to rub his fat, slimy chin in contemplation.

    "They will be more worth more alive, I suppose."

    Many of the moisture farmers on Tatooine had formed communities from their common territorial locations. In spite of competitive seasons, the farming villages their own and one another for the most part, with Tusken Raiders and criminals alike to deal with.

    It was much easier for citizens of Tatooine to live peacefully since the death of Jabba and the disbandment of his criminal empire. The moisture farmers had formed a militia and there was far more intra-planetary transportation between cities, including the speederbus and convoyex train.

    Tusken Raiders still lurked in the dunes, looking for farms to raid and citizens to attack, however, their activity had long since decreased. The same was true of lone bounty hunters and assassins who sought out work.

    A cluster of farmers in the streets of Mos Eisley looked up in horror at the arriving armada, gazing as the stream of Hawk gunships and Syck fighters flowed in the direction of Jabba's abandoned palace.

    "It's the Hutt Cartel!" an old farmer exclaimed.

    "The Hutts haven't been here since Jabba," a woman replied.

    The roughly thirty Jedi Masters and Knights gathered outside the Lars homestead, watching the invasion.

    "The Tatooine militia is still ill-equipped," Glut Nodlad observed, "They won't be able to resist the Coalition's attack without being crushed."

    "This is most likely a trap," Saba Sebatyne pointed out, "The Coalition wants us to show ourselves."

    "We should wait for Master Skywalker to return before making a move," Master Kol said.

    "I don't think we'll have to wait much longer," Han said, looking up into the sky.

    Two Jedi StealthXs had successfully penetrated the Coalition blockade and were flying down towards the Lars homestead and the gathering near the line of moisture vaporators.

    "It's Luke!" Leia exclaimed.

    "And Tionne!" added Tahiri.

    Many of the gathered exiles ran down the stairs towards the secret hangar where Luke and Tionne were docking.

    Chewie let out a loud Wookiee holler as Luke and Tionne exited their crafts, and Artoo flew out of the droid socket on Luke's fighter and landed smoothly on the ground

    The two Jedi Masters were greeted by warm embraces from their friends and comrades.

    After letting go of his brother-in-law, Han commented, "It took you long enough, kid."

    "Had to make sure we weren't being followed," Luke replied.

    "Have you seen the situation with the Coalition?" Kol asked, "The Hutts and their thugs are occupying Tatooine again."

    Two swoop bikes flew from the depths of the Dune Sea towards the igloo that made up the outer entrance to the homestead.

    Luke rushed up to greet the recently knighted Jedi who returned, Valin Halcyon and Ganner Rhysode.

    "What's the status on the Coalition front?" he asked.

    "They've taken both Mos Eisley and Anchorhead," Valin replied, "The militia is a little stronger in Mos Espa, but they aren't going to last much longer."

    "As long as the Jedi are here, are we going to do anything about it?" Ganner asked the Grand Master.

    Luke stared grimly into the horizon, viewing the Syck fighters and Hawk gunships in the distance making their way into the cities of Tatooine.

    "We won't be idle for much longer," he promised, "The Jedi will rise against the corruption of the Coalition.

    SOJOURN

    A rickety yellow D-11 Speeder sailed over the ocean of Sojourn, heading quickly for the planet's South Pole.

    Still donning his breathing apparatus, Hego Damask piloted the water-specialized speeder, with the revived Darth Malten sitting next to him.

    "Where are we going?" Malten asked confusedly, looking around at the scenery coming from the isolated islands that they passed.

    "We have an important mission, Lord Malten," Damask replied, "We are going to stop the challengers to the rightful position you are to reassume."

    "I am the reigning Dark Lord," Malten growled savagely, not bothering to question the orders Damask was giving him.

    A long, narrow, black command ship appeared in orbit of Sojourn, with two Herald-class ships appearing from the bottom hangar entrance.

    Ultor's senses were hungrily detecting the magnitude of the Force power radiating from the planet.

    Into the radio, he said, "Can you feel the power of darkness seeping through the vastness?"

    "It calls to you, Master," Talon replied, "You were destined to become conquered of all dark side knowledge, and this is your chance to prove your greatness."

    Ultor never failed to enjoy Talon's flattery and praise.

    His yellow eyes scanned the planet as they both sailed closer to the surface.

    "Follow my lead," he ordered, "He is calling to me like a beacon."

    Damask and Malten finally reached an island on the South Pole- one that consisted of a light sheet of snow. The island looked odd next to the sunny ocean surrounding it, as did the tropical vegetation sprinkled with the snowfall that occasionally visited.

    Damask brought the speeder to a halt on the lightly covered shore, urging Malten to exit along with him.

    Malten was still slightly dazed as he staggered on the snowy sand.

    "What are we doing here?" he asked.

    Damask produced a lightsaber from the speeders side compartment and handed it to the green-skinned Twi'lek.

    "This is our ultimate test, as Sith Lords," he said, "Once we dispose of the pretenders, there will be nobody to stand in our way."

    Of course, Damask was purely manipulating Malten and his state of delirium. The revived Dark Lord, like the rest of Damask's experiments, would merely serve as a puppet in his grand scheme, thinking that he alone was special enough to reclaim his former glory in full.

    Darth Plagueis began to feel the dark power flowing through his veins that he had long kept suppressed. He was the ultimate master over life and death, the most powerful Sith Lord of all time. Nothing would stand in his way, not this Ultor and not some Jedi spirit either.

    As the two Sith vessels landed on the island, on the other side of the grove of tropical spiral-trunked trees, Plagueis withdrew his own lightsaber, his eyes glowing with eagerness. He could sense Ultor's raw power, yearning to exercise its abilities. Plagueis would ensure that Ultor more than met his match.

    Two black-clad figures emerged from the shadows formed by the canopy trees, a human male and a Twi'lek female.

    "I've been searching for you a long time, Darth Plagueis," Ultor said, drawing his own saber, "You have knowledge that I seek.

    "You will never have my secrets, Sith pretender," Plagueis rasped, "You are nothing but a follower of an obsolete Order!"

    Ultor let out a roar of fury, rushing at Ultor and Malten.

    This was Talon's cue to ignite her twin sabers, charging after her master.

    Damask activated his yellow blade, rushing to meet Ultor's attack.

    Ultor suddenly stopped and extended a hand, using the Force to seize hold of Plagueis's breathing device. He pulled the entire machine from the elderly Munn's chest, crunching it into a ball of metal.

    "You are helpless without this machine," Ultor gloated, "you are no better than the others I have bested."

    Plagueis let out a cold, wizened chuckle. "Do you really think I, the master of death itself, need such a device to live?"

    He dipped his lightsaber in Ultor's direction, gripping it with both hands.

    Ultor lunged with fury, aiming at Plagueis's long head.

    With strength that did not seem possible from his frail-looking body, Plagueis pushed hard against Ultor's lightsaber.

    Meanwhile, Talon began to attack her fellow Twi'lek, bombarding Malten with a series of twirls from both her lightsaber.

    Malten used his red blade to repel her strikes, rotating it very quickly between the left and right.

    Talon pushed him back across the snowy beach, her unfamiliar style of combat forcing Malten to stay on the defensive in spite of his long years of experience.

    Ultor was surprised by his elder opponent's skill. Plagueis pressed his advantage, advancing on the young Sith and forcing him to back away.

    Ultor leapt backwards in the direction of a spiral tree, grabbing onto the trunk with one hand while holding onto his lightsaber with the other.

    Plagueis did not charge after him, but opened his wrinkled hand to unleash a torrent of crackling lightning, sending it towards Ultor as he climbed onto his two feet.

    Ultor was caught unprepared by the lightning, crying out in pain as his chest absorbed a few bolts.

    He fell from the tree onto the ground floor, his back striking against the snow.

    Plagueis shouted as he hurled another stream of energy at Ultor, even more intense than the first.

    Ultor brought his red lightsaber horizontally in front of him, redirecting some of the bolts of lightning that rippled through him.

    "I think it's safe to say you've met your match, blood of Palpatine," Plagueis snarled.

    Ultor was quick to change tactics. "I didn't come here to kill you, Lord Plagueis," he said, "I came here to learn from you."

    "Learn from me?" Plagueis laughed, "You- who obtained your knowledge from a Holocron?"

    "Not all of it," Ultor snarled defensively, still sitting on the ground as he backed away from his foe, "and how do you know about me?"

    "I've been watching you a long time, boy," Plagueis snarled, " I know how you've your little band of dark sisters in hopes of finishing the job that your great-grandfather failed to complete. Just as he failed to kill me, and he knew better than to try and finish me off. Now, you understand why."

    Ultor slowly climbed to his feet, his bones still burning from the lightning directed at him. Finally, regaining his footing, Ultor let his red blade dip into the snow.

    "Your unprecedented knowledge has become legend," Ultor said in an appeasing tone, "And I wish to share the greatness of success. If you'll hear me out, my Lord, I have a proposition for you. An alliance between us Masters of the dark side that will give the Sith total rule over the galaxy once again. Together, we will finish off the Jedi and make sure that they never return."

    "Us Masters?" Plagueis repeated with a hint of scorn. Nonetheless, he considered the younger warrior's words. "You want to ally with me?"

    On the coast, Talon continued to battle against the undead Malten. The old Twi'lek, born more than two hundred years before yet only displaying a shadow of his peak strength, was only able to send small jets of lightning from his outstretched palm.

    Talon was able to absorb the electricity into her lightsabers, but the crackling bolts were enough to keep her lightsaber from getting too close to her opponent.

    She lunged with frustrated impatience, swinging with her left blade while Malten's lightsaber kept back her other one.

    "If you've been watching me from afar, then you'll know that I command a vast network of warriors," Ultor was saying. His lightsaber was still activated, ready to fight back if needed.

    "Criminals, you mean," Plagueis replied scornfully.

    "Yes, all ready to fight against the status quo of the Republic. I have managed to drive the Jedi into exile once more. They are a shadow of what they once were, even under Luke Skywalker's leadership. Together, you and I could lead the Coalition in its final victory over the Republic. We would have the chance to kill the Grand Master of the Order, a feat not even Darth Sidious achieved."

    The two dark warriors cautiously circled around one another in the snow, which began to fall even harder.

    "This alliance you propose- you wish for me to lead alongside you?" Plagueis asked.

    "Indeed, and finish the grand plan of the Sith that has since been long forgotten. You will achieve the honor that was wrongfully taken from you."

    "And in exchange, you wish for me to teach you my secrets?" Plagueis asked, "My mastery of the midichlorians?"

    Ultor nodded, a smile forming across his face, which was illuminated by the red glow of his blade.

    Plagueis switched off his yellow bladed lightsaber, prompting Ultor to finally do the same.

    Inside Damask's laboratory under the vacation home, Kira continued to struggle reviving the Zabrak cadaver, straining as hard as she could.

    She now felt the intense fury returning to her, as if she was in the burning Jedi Academy on Ossus.

    "Answer me!" she shouted, now full of rage. Her face was bright red and the strands of her hair were messily spread around.

    Kira hated Damask and his empty promises. She could feel the midichlorians mocking her, daring her to try and wake them up again.

    Suddenly, Kira was seized by an energy beyond her control. It did not seem to come from her, but from an external agent possessing her, driving her to a state of animalistic fury previously beyond her.

    Kira did not think about summoning her lightsaber from her belt to her hand, but it landed in her sweaty palm with a hard slap nonetheless.

    Instinctively, Kira switched on her lightsaber as if about to confront a powerful enemy.

    She pulled her weapon back and thrusted its blue bar of plasma into the glass that contained the dead body of the Nightbrother Zabrak.

    The glass shattered and flew across the laboratory, striking the cases nearby and drilling holes that left cracks in the tanks of Savage's neighboring cadavers.

    The yellow liquid encasing Savage began to spew from his tank and splatter on the floor of Damask's laboratory.

    Kira paid no mind to the liquid entrenching her boots and pants.

    Instead, she clamped her hand down on Savage's lightly-covered chest and squeezed as hard as she could.

    She screamed out loud as she tapped into the lingering forces within Savage, snapping the midichlorians inside him awake. Finally, his missing decomposed flesh returned to him, and his organs and blood vessels began to activate once more.

    Kira felt a heartbeat, and very faint breathing begin.

    Regaining her senses, Kira stepped back, feeling a bit of shock as the Zabrak stirred.

    "I did that," she said to no one in particular, "I brought him back. I can raise the dead."

    The Zabrak's eyes fluttered as he remained in a dazed condition.

    Kira glared into his yellow and black face with a smirk of satisfaction. She enjoyed the power that resulted from her rage, and she had no choice but to keep at it.

    Kira looked over to another tank, one that had been cracked by the flying shards of glass.

    As Savage began to slowly wake up, Kira turned to the other tank to the right, which contained the very same Bith whom Damask had revived with his powers; Darth Plagueis's former Sith Master.

    Kira swung at the tank with her lightsaber, which split the top half of the glass case from the bottom, causing it to slide off and shatter into pieces on the laboratory floor.

    Kira! Stop, you cannot let this rage consume you.

    At first, Kira paid no mind to the far-off voice calling to her, but instead began to communicate forcefully with the midichlorians inside the Bith. There were many thousands more populated inside Tenebrous than there had been in Savage, who was now looking around the laboratory in bewilderment.

    Tenebrous's midichlorians were far more resistant than Savage's were, causing Kira to feel like her arm was on fire and her hand was about to split open from the effort.

    "Come...on!" she grunted, her face twisted with fury.

    Kira! the familiar voice shouted.

    Kira suddenly was no longer in the laboratory, but she saw an image from a scene many lightyears away- it was a nightmarish resort with distorted colors and blurred scenery- but she could make out her best friend Tahiri, fruitlessly fighting against the red blade of a Sith.

    She saw Sam Fel, the Republic officer, being thrown roughly into a cell, after taking a beating from his captors.

    Her mind flashed back to the siege of the Jedi Academy on Ossus, with the flames engulfing the ancient structure.

    She saw her worst enemy of all, Darth Ultor, standing next to Damask, both of their eyes flashing bright yellow.

    Leave, you must, or consumed, you will be, said the voice of an ancient Jedi Master from beyond the grave.

    Kira screamed with a roar of fury before sprinting as fast as she could towards the passageway leading out of the laboratory.

    Behind her, the Zabrak named Savage got up onto his feet and began to stumble around the laboratory, looking in confusion at the shattered glass and the tanks containing the bodies of the fallen Sith of the past.

    "Brother..." Savage mumbled, "Where are you, brother?"

    The two dueling Twilek's came to a stalemate, with Talon's twin lightsabers pushing against Malten's longer blade.

    "That's enough," said the voice of Ultor, as he arrived with Damask onto the snow-covered shore.

    "Master?" Talon asked in confusion, looking from Malten to Ultor as he and Plagueis approached.

    "Lord Malten, you can stand down now," Plagueis ordered.

    "Stand down? I must win this fight," Malten disagreed, "I must reclaim my mantle.

    He struck again at Talon, who blocked his attack while retreating.

    Plagueis extended a hand towards Malten, reaching into his brain. Then, the revived Sith Lord crumbled unconscious to the ground, striking the snowy sand with a hard blow.

    Talon looked on at her opponent with confusion, then turned back to her Master and his new ally.

    "There's a new arrangement in order," Ultor said, "Lord Plagueis is here to guide us to both victory over the Jedi and mastery over the most forbidden secrets of the Force."

    "Together, we have a better chance of bringing the dark side back to its peak strength," Plagueis replied.

    "First, I think we have a Jedi to eliminate," Ultor said, sensing the familiar presence several thousand miles away.

    As Kira entered the retreat home's main sitting room, she ran into the protocol droid 11-4D.

    "Mistress Solo, where are you going?" asked Fourdee.

    Kira ignored him completely and raced towards the mansion's exit, using the Force to yank the doorway open.

    As the young renegade hurried onto the sandy pathway leading back to her ship docked on the beach, Kira saw a shimmering presence waiting.

    She sprinted down the pathway leading to the sandy, tropical shore, completely winded and out of breath by the time she reached her purchased spice freighter

    "Anakin," she panted, stopping before the Force spirit and bending over to wheeze in exhaustion.

    "You have been exposed to the most forbidden knowledge that the Force has to offer," Anakin stated, gazing in concern at his granddaughter, "Midichlorian manipulation is probably the most dangerous thing you could attempt."

    "It...almost...turned me...into something else," Kira replied, slowly catching her breath, "I have..to..get out...of here."

    "I think that's a wise decision," Anakin said, "There are a lot of other people who miss you and are worried about you."

    "I know," Kira replied, a wave of guilt and shame coming over her, harder than the tidal wave enveloping the shoreline nearby. "I let them all down. Mom, Dad, Tahiri. I abandoned them after they tried to help me."

    "When we hurt the people we love, that doesn't mean they stop loving us," Anakin said. Now, the Jedi spirit grew melancholy, as if he was reflecting on his own painful memories. "Or that they stop believing in us finding the right way again. We just have to turn away from the wrong path, even if it fulfills our own selfish desires."

    "I don't want to hurt them any more, any of them. And I'm afraid that I'll be nothing but a danger if I stay here any longer. I'll be destroyed by my own knowledge, and become a monster, a totally different creature. I saw terrible things happening in my visions. Anakin. My friends and family. They were being attacked and killed, by an army of Sith. Like the Sith that Damask has in his lair."

    "Damask may have had good intentions, but he is still surrounded by the dark side. Experimenting with the midichlorians can only corrupt one further. It is best that you stay away from such knowledge, even if it tempts you. I know this only too well."

    "What do I do now, Anakin?" Kira asked, slumping onto the sand against the wing of her freighter, "I've isolated myself from everybody for so long now, and I have nobody else in the galaxy."

    "You know that's not true, Kira," Anakin reassured her, "I've always been here for you, as have the other Jedi of the past. Your parents and your Uncle still love you; your family will never stop believing in you. And your family goes beyond blood too, as mine did."

    Kira glanced up at the shimmering spirit gazing down at her with his sage wisdom. It had never failed her before.

    "You know what you must do now," Anakin said.

    "I do," Kira replied, "I have no more business here. I have friends and family to help, and a war to win."

    "With the spirit of light in you, you won't lose," Anakin promised.

    "Thank you, Anakin," Kira said, now finding herself choked with emotion, tears beginning to reach her eye sockets, "Your guidance and support has been everything to me."

    "Now go, and don't look back," Anakin advised.

    Kira boarded her ship, keeping her vision forward as Anakin faded into the beach.

    Kira felt a wave of determination as she climbed into the cockpit of her freighter. She pulled the lever to activate the engine, which rang loudly over the sound of the waves crashing against the sand.

    Kira began to steer her craft towards the bright blue sky as it lifted out of the sand, her eyes gazing out of the front window towards the infinity above.
     
  7. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    SOJOURN

    The waterspeeder sped over the ocean onto the beach that held Hego Damask's resort home.

    One human, a Muun, and two Twi'leks emerged from the craft, with Damask and Ultor dragging the unconscious Malten with his arms around their shoulders. The surrounding area was silent except for the waves crashing against the shore.

    "The Jedi has already escaped," Plagueis noted, seeing that Kira's freighter was no longer on the beach.

    Once the Sith arrived in Plagueis's laboratory underneath the mansion, Ultor and Plagueis set Malten against the wall and let him slump onto the floor.

    Ultor and Talon gazed curiously around the laboratory, studying the preserved bodies of the Sith Lords of the past.

    "This is what you've been doing all these years?" Ultor asked with a genuine awe uncharacteristic of him, "You've been collecting Sith Lords and bringing them here?"

    "I am able to bring them back to life at will," Plagueis replied, "Lord Malten here was the Master of my Master."

    "How do we know he wasn't already alive?" Talon asked suspiciously, "Some more proof might be necessary for us to fully believe you."

    At that moment, Savage came staggering blindly down the corridor leading from the main living room into the secret chamber.

    He immediately noticed the three Sith and demanded, "Where am I? What have you done to me?"

    "Take it easy, Savage," Plagueis said gently, "You've been brought back to life by midichlorian manipulation. Do you remember dying?"

    "I remember...being killed..." Savage replied, "After that...my memory is blank."

    "That's because you were in the Netherworld," Plagueis replied, "Or at least your spirit was."

    "Are you going to...kill me again?" Savage asked, sounding meeker than his size and gruff voice suggested.

    "No, not when there is good use for you," Plagueis replied.

    Suddenly, Plagueis used the Force to push Savage hard against the wall of the laboratory, causing his head to strike the metal and his body to crumple unconscious on the floor.

    To Ultor and Talon, he said, "These Sith here will be the new army that assumes the fight against the Jedi and the Republic. Not those criminals and thugs that are the Coalition."

    "They will be dealt with soon enough," Ultor replied, "Once Tatooine is taken over, there will be no use for the Hutts or their minions."

    "Together, we will unleash my creation across the galaxy," Plagueis rasped with a menacing grin, "The Jedi will be crushed like never before, and the light side will be extinguished forever."

    "The Sith will forever reign supreme," Ultor added, "Soon, we will claim victory where Darth Sidious could not, and declare a new era to last forever. The ways of the Force will altered forever."

    Inwardly, however, Ultor knew that he could not fight alongside a being with so much more power than himself. He would either have to learn Plagueis's secrets before killing him, or kill him before Plagueis could begin to use his own power against Ultor.

    TATOOINE

    The Millennium Falcon was docked atop Beggar's Canyon, which overlooked the city of Anchorhead.

    A small group stood on the canyon over the dune sea that led to the old settlement, with Grand Master Skywalker surveying the landscape with a pair of macrobinoculars.

    "How bad is it?" Tionne asked.

    "The mercenaries and hired thugs taking over the public transports," Luke replied. Through the lenses, he could see a unit of armored Nikto, Rodian, Trandoshan guerrillas ordering several dozen travelers at blaster-point to exit the long Repulsor Train that had been en route from Anchorhead to Mos Espa.

    In the city itself, banks, businesses, and public services were also under siege, with Coalition mercenaries ransacking them for their assets and wealth.

    "They'll have the entire planet under siege soon if we don't act," Tionne said, "Their blockade won't allow free ships to exit. We can't take on their cruisers without the help of the Republic fleet."

    "The Republic would never help us now," Jysella pointed out bitterly, "We're just as bad as the Coalition to Omas and his ilk."

    "And it's only a matter of time before one of the Coalition scout units pick up on our presence," Glut added.

    "I know it seems hopeless, but the Jedi have faced worse odds and won," Luke replied.

    "With all due respect, Master, but you had the help of the Rebel Alliance in the fight against the Empire," Glut said, "We have no such support here."

    "There are more Jedi this time," Luke replied, "and the people will see the good of our cause in the end. If the Republic is true, then that will make the difference in their actions.l

    "For now, we should stay focused on the present," Tionne advised, "We have people to liberate."

    Luke nodded in acknowledgment, knowing that the larger picture of their situation would have to wait.

    Across the canyon, hidden behind a large boulder, Durge waited for his hovering scout droid to return with the images of the Jedi scouts.

    He returned silently to his Novasword fighter, which was built to suit a pilot that was nine feet tall, as Durge was.

    The Gen'Dai hunter climbed into his cockpit and began to send a transmission.

    Far below the canyon, hidden within a dark, shadowed gorge, a group of Tusken Raiders watched the proceedings from their Bantha mounts.

    "So the rumors are true," the leader said, his face and body covered by heavy layers of wrapping and a harsh mask adapted for the worst desert conditions. "About the Coalition, and about the Jedi's presence."

    "She must be here then too," a second Tusken Raider replied, "The defector."

    "That girl is no clan member of ours," the first Tusken grunted, "And her blood parents know it. No Tusken who shows her face or joins the outsiders can remain a part of the tribe."

    "Then she must face the consequences just as any enemy would," the second Tusken replied.

    SOJOURN

    Three vessels, a vintage Sith Infiltrator belonging to Talon, Ultor's Herald shuttle, and a Damask Holdings Valcyn, flew into the lower entrance of the Phantom Revenge's hangar.

    A second Coalition cruiser had joined Ultor's personal command ship, operated by a silent army of Shadowtroopers.

    "All stations, stand by," the cloaked Shadow Officer ordered as the new-coming cruiser halted alongside its lead ship.

    Once the Sith arrived aboard the hangar of Ultor's ship, they exited their crafts with 11-4D beside Plagueis.

    "Will your Sith army follow our lead to Tatooine?" Ultor asked the elder Dark Lord.

    "I have put Lord Malten under an ancient alchemical spell to ensure his obedience," Plagueis replied, "Once I revive the remaining Sith, I will deliver them to join us in the battle."

    A Shadowtrooper approached the huddled Sith.

    "Master, you have a message from Tatooine," the helmeted soldier reported, "A request from the bounty hunter Durge."

    "Patch him to me," Ultor replied.

    A few minutes later, Ultor was alone in his private quarters, addressing the towering hologram.

    "What do you want, hunter?" Ultor growled.

    Durge did not seem to have any visible reaction to the Dark Master's tone.

    "My lord, I have discovered the Jedi on Tatooine, hiding from both the Coalition and the Republic," Durge replied, "Both parties will be searching for them with high prices on their heads."

    "The Jedi belong to me and the Sith," Ultor snarled savagely, "You will not hand them over to anybody else."

    "I will gladly detain them for you, your excellence," Durge replied.

    Ultor severed the communication and exited his quarters, his eyes glowing red and yellow with deepened hatred.

    CHANDRILIA

    A heavy presence of Republic vessels had arrived on Chandrilia, swarming around the planet.

    On the outskirts of the capital of Hanna City, a garrison had been installed, with a battalion of Brigadiers undergoing a series of drills in the fields by the lake.

    Accompanied by robed Senate guards from Coruscant, Grand Vizier Omas was surveying the multi-species troops as they battled against holographic Imperial stormtroopers.

    To Colonel Brea Kargill, he said, "They'll need to adapt to the unpredictable tactics of the Coalition, but their aim is on point."

    "The pace of the war is escalating, Supreme Commander," Kargill replied, "It will not be long before the Coalition attempts a retaliation strike."

    "It is not just the Coalition that we have to contend with," Omas replied, "The Jedi deserters managed to evade Hoff Praxium's men during the battle here as well."

    Omas gazed towards the battle-damaged capital city and asked, "Have your troops secured the city's perimeter?"

    "They will be able to detect any Jedi presence here," Kargill replied, "And the activities of Senator Mothma are being strictly monitored."

    From her office in the administrative building in Hanna City, Mon Mothma patched a communication to Omas and Kargill via holotable.

    "Senator Mothma, I trust that you are safe with the added security in the city?" Omas asked.

    "The people here are intimidated by your troops," Mothma replied, "They have no freedom with the constant military presence. I request that you recall your units from the interior of Hanna City."

    "With respect, Senator, that is something we cannot do," Omas replied, "With the recent presence of the Jedi, we must take extra precautions to ensure that they do not escape justice again."

    Omas's sneer suggested more than he was saying, concealing an accusation against the Senator.

    "You and General Praxium both seem far more concerned about punishing the Jedi for a perceived slight than you do fighting the Coalition," Mothma retorted.

    "As long as such a powerful force runs loose in the galaxy, the Republic cannot be truly secure," Omas replied, "You will understand once the Jedi have been tried and brought to justice."

    HYPERSPACE

    A large, Rho-class Republic shuttle departed from the top entrance to the Black Ring, which remained in line with the rest of the fleet preparing to launch.

    Inside it, Hoff Praxium sat in the passenger seat of the cockpit beside a lieutenant and the pilot, with rifle-carrying specialized bodyguards standing informally on either side of the entrance to the cockpit.

    After Praxium's shuttle came out of lightspeed in the Chandrilia system, the general activated the holoprojector built into his ship's cockpit.

    The hologram of Colonel Kargill appeared before him.

    "General Praxium," the short, red-haired woman said with a routine salute.

    "Colonel, has Cal Omas made contact from Coruscant?" Praxium asked.

    "He is here on Chandrilia surveying the troops before they are deployed," Kargill replied.

    "Excellent, we can speed up the trial then, instead of shipping the prisoner all the way to the Senate."

    "You've captured a prisoner, General?" Kargill asked curiously .

    "A traitor, caught communicating with a Jedi fugitive," Praxium replied, "Major Sam Praxium."

    Hoff wondered if he should start referring to his son by his ex-wife's last name of Fel, which Sam had preferred. He certainly hated to admit relation to the boy at this point, when he had committed a serious offense against the war effort.

    A small, rickety freighter followed Hoff's shuttle from a long enough distance behind to avoid detection.

    Kira glared at the shrinking ship with determination as it crossed into the surface of Chandrilia.

    Her animosity had primarily been directed at Darth Ultor, but now Kira could spare a drop of resentment for the Republic, which had taken Sam away from her in more than one respect.

    That was not to mention it forcing the Jedi to go into hiding for the second time in fifty years, turning much of the galactic population against them out of partisan spite.

    Hoff's shuttle disappeared into the white, terrestrial clouds of Chandrilia, flying high over the wrecked skyscrapers of Hanna City, which still had several dozen gunships passing within it and units of Brigadiers patrolling the streets.

    Hoff Praxium was the first to exit his shuttle, flanked by his bodyguards.

    Next came two masked Republic Brigadiers, each of them holding on to one of Sam's bindercuffed arms.

    Sam did not dare look at any of the young trainees drilling in the field, or at Colonel Kargill and Vizier Omas.

    He allowed himself to leave reality and ignore his own existence as he was dragged into the barracks and led towards the holding cells down the metal stairs.

    Finally, the guards shoved Sam into one of the cells, all of which wereotherwise vacated. Sam stumbled against the wall before regaining his balance, facing his captors defiantly. His defiance was all he had left.

    Before sliding the door shut, General Praxium turned to his son and said, "I wish it could have beendifferent, Major, but you made your choice."

    Kira began to lower her freighter along the mountain range that bordered the city with the long traffic route to its next neighbor.

    She breathed deeply as she landed the craft, pulling the switch to shut down the engine. As the ship's systems began to wind down, Kira attempted to stave off the rage that she felt lingering within her.

    She had realized the magnitude of the midichlorian manipulation's effects on her soul, but Kira still felt compelled to exercise the power she had felt inside. It seemed to be the appropriate outlet for her rage. And why shouldn't she let it out? The universe had been cruel to her- starting with Ben's death but costing her her friends and family that lived as well.

    Kira's internal battle prevented her from sending the danger ahead as she exited her craft.

    Down below, Kira saw the Republic garrison, with the troopers boarding the gunships that would deliver them to the many battlefields across the civilized galaxy.

    She crept down the grassy mountain trail towards the medium-sized structure, not noticing the Firespray ship descending from the clouds of dusk.

    Ailyn Fett said from inside her cockpit, "I've got you, Jedi girl."

    Kira turned around in surprise at the laser cannons firing at her docked freighter.

    Instinctively, Kira dove for her lightsaber, bringing its blue blade to life as her ship caught fire before erupting in a fiery ball of rubber.

    Kira widened her stance and remembered the basics of lightsaber combat Form III, which was best suited to deflect against heavy volleys of laserfire.

    Slave II disappeared behind the summit of the peak nearest to Kira, who started to run in its direction, eager for the fight.

    Kira propelled her speed with the Force as she ran down the mountain slope, her lightsaber blade scorching the grass along her pathway.

    As soon as she crossed into the valley, Kira heard the whooshing sound of a jetpack and looked up to see Ailyn Fett flying down towards her, armed with two Sacros blaster pistols.

    "I knew you'd come for your handsome friend, Solo," Ailyn shouted from above, "Too bad he's finished."

    "You're about to be," Kira growled at the bounty hunter.

    She charged at her airborne foe as Ailyn opened fire. Kira grabbed onto her cylinder hilt with her other hand as well, strengthening its precision as it batted away the blaster bolts raining down on her.

    Kira used the Force to dash closer to Ailyn's direction, squatting her knees down slightly before pushing herself high into the air.

    Kira held her lightsaber above her head as she leapt after Ailyn, aiming for the Mandalorian bounty hunter's legs.

    Ailyn quickly put one pistol in its holster before clicking a gauntlet on the sleeve of her armor.

    Kira gagged as fire and ash came spouting from Ailyn's built-in flame thrower, tumbling back onto the valley's slope with a thud.

    As soon as her back struck the dirt, Kira continued flicking her blade back and forth, smelling the burns of the blaster bolts as they hit her saber before flying into the distance.

    Ailyn lowered herself to get a better shot at Kira, who hopped onto her feet as the bounty hunter reached the ground.

    Kira knew that every second she spent fighting this bounty hunter was a second wasted, when Sam was still a prisoner and the Sith still needed to be destroyed.

    As Ailyn fired at Kira, the young renegade raised her hand, imagining that it was seizing the woman by the throat and squeezing.

    Ailyn's throat tightened, and she dropped her pistol in surprise and reached for her own neck.

    Kira clenched her hand tighter, further depriving Ailyn of air. The bounty hunter struggled, her eyes and mouth wide with a sudden fear.

    Kira approached her and squeezed even harder, locking Ailyn's air supply until the bounty hunter lost consciousness. Kira then let her fall to the ground lifeless before turning to run back up the mountain slope towards the garrison.

    SOJOURN

    Down on the surface of Sojourn, night had nearly fallen.

    Malten and Savage stood alongside Plagueis in his laboratory as he used the Force to open the tanks containing all of the Sith.

    There were about thirty Dark Lords and Apprentices in total, assembled like machines as their eyes glowed from the spell that Plagueis had spread among them.

    "Lords of the Sith," Plagueis growled, waving both of his arms upward as he grabbed their attention with his dark powers, "Each of you is now in the service of the dark side of the Force. Only together can we destroy the Jedi once and for all. Our predecessors failed us, as did the Empire. But now, there is a new order of darkness, once that transcends death and has achieved immortality!"

    The Sith Lords let out a loud war cry as the spell of dark alchemy continues to take control of their minds.

    Plagueis withdrew several lightsabers that he had collected over time from a safe in his laboratory, surveying the rows of revived Sith as he passed one to each.

    On Tatooine, on the cliff overlooking Anchorhead Luke Skywalker gripped his forehead as he staggered forward.

    "Master, are you all right?" Tionne asked, catching his arms gently.

    "I feel a dark disturbance," Luke replied, "An evil like no other is spreading. There is a sinister power that the Jedi have never seen before, revealing itself."

    "We have to stop it then," Tahiri replied, growing scared at the sight of Luke's deepening worries

    "We have a job to do first," Tionne reminded her former Padawan.

    As he armed each Sith who was resurrected, Plagueis stopped in front of the last one, in front of the back row.

    This Sith was a bald man with a black scar up and down his eye, in fact, he was the very same Sith who had told Ultor of his true destiny.

    "I will entrust you to command the Brotherhood of Darkness while I join the Dark Master on his flagship, Lord Bane, do you accept the task?"

    "I live to serve the darkness," Bane replied in his trance- unaware of his own free will.

    Aboard the Phantom Revenge, Ultor turned to Talon and asked, "Do you feel it? The sheer and raw power, the roots of the Force being seized from the ground in which they lie?"

    "Yes, my Master," Talon replied with a nod, "But are we certain that Plagueis will show us his secrets as he promised he would?"

    "We can never trust the word of anyone, let alone another Sith," Ultor replied, "That is why our alliance with him will only last as long as this war."

    A long YV-929 freighter flew from the orb of Sojourn towards the awaiting Sith cruiser, which orbited the planet beside the Phantom Revenge.

    The freighter was piloted by 11-4D and contained the resurrected Brotherhood of Darkness, the entirety of Sith Lords who had lived between Darth Bane and Darth Tenebrous.

    A battalion of Shadowtroopers waited with their blasters and artillery cannons ready as the Sith carrier entered the ship.

    The lead Shadow Officer approached the hatch of the freighter as it docked on the hangar floor, with several columns of smoke emitting from the bottom.

    "Who's there?" he snarled through the harsh vocabulator of his mask, "Reveal yourselves now, or be executed!"

    The door to the ship's hatch came crashing to the steel floor with a deafening crash, and the soldiers who had approached the freighter backed away in horror.

    "Check it out in there," the officer said to his guards, who crept towards the entrance to the freighter.

    Nothing was visible inside the docked ship except for pitch black. Not until the first red bladed lightsaber ignited amid the blackness, and then a chorus of lightsaber ignitions followed, lighting up the inside of the freighter.

    The Coalition special operations backed away, raising their blasters to fire as the Sith began to advance.

    TATOOINE

    As the residents huddled together in the sand outside the train, they looked on fearfully as the Coalition guerrillas marched through it.

    A Trandoshan and a Whiphid stood with heavy-artillery rifles aimed at the hostages, ready gun down any who dared resist.

    "Over there!" a Rodian child pointed towards the Jundland Wastes, where about seven cloaked figures were rapidly approaching the crime scene.

    Six of them rode swoop bikes, while Luke rode in the old landspeeder.

    The Trandoshan turned his blaster towards the approaching Jedi, while the Whiphid kept his trained on the Anchorhead travelers.

    "Give us your valuables or die," the Whiphid threatened.

    The group of newcomers dismounted from their rides and reached for their lightsabers in unison, which none of them activated.

    Luke, however, approached the two guerrillas and said, "Stand down and let them go. This does not have to end in violence."

    "You don't understand how we operate around here, do you?" the Trandoshan taunted.

    He opened fire at Luke, who waved his hand to bat the laser streak aside, leaving a small hole in the sand.

    Both the Whiphid and Trandoshan continued to shoot.

    Luke used the Force to deflect their shots again before finally activating his lightsaber.

    "Surrender and leave," he said firmly, giving the thugs a cold stare that was not quite threatening, but warning them nonetheless.

    The rest of the Coalition platoon came out of the train through the windows and doors, sending several volleys of laserfire at the Jedi.

    The remainder of them activated their sabers as well, standing in place as they returned fire, until each and every one of the hired goons had been struck dead by their own fire.

    Luke deactivated his lightsaber and motioned for the others to do the same.

    The multicolored lightsaber glows went silent, and the Jedi approached the apprehensive refugees.

    "You're safe now," Tionne told them, "We're here to protect you all from the Coalition."

    "We're ever grateful for the Jedi," a human woman said, "No matter what the Republic says."

    "The Jedi of old was bound to the Republic, neglecting those who needed help beyond it," Luke said, "We won't make the same mistake."

    "What about the city?" Tahiri asked, "The Hutts still have an army inside."

    "We'll deal with them," Master Tionne promised.

    Suddenly, a shadow overtook the huddled community, and the Jedi turned to find the hulking Durge standing before them, a heavy blaster-cannon strapped on his shoulder.

    "Jedi scum," he boomed, "Lay down your weapons and surrender, or I open fire on the civilians."

    Durge was in the optimal position to kill five people with one shot.

    The Jedi looked between him and the cowering refugees, pondering on what to do.

    Finally, Luke set his lightsaber gently down on the sandy dune.

    Tionne raised her eyebrows in questioning, but understood and did the same.

    As soon as the rest of the Jedi disarmed themselves, Durge said, "The Dark Master will be pleased to see you. This will be my biggest bounty yet."

    Luke raised his hands in the air as if surrendering, but summoned a powerful wave with the Force and gave Durge a hard push.

    The giant bounty hunter let out a boom as he flew backwards, firing a heavy cannon blast into the sky.

    "Take cover!" Tahiri yelled, ushering the citizens into the hijacked train to avoid the blast as it came in a projectile motion back onto the sand, leaving a medium sized hole in the wake of its explosion.

    The Jedi turned their lightsabers back on as Durge charged, with Glut Nodlad being the first to reach him.

    Durge grabbed Master Nodlad's blade with his fist, which was completely unaffected.

    He casually tossed the Master aside and laughed,

    "Tahiri, you and the other Knights take the people back into Anchorhead for cover," Luke ordered, "We'll stay here and handle this."

    The three younger knights ushered the people to run for safety, taking the rear to deflect the shots coming from Durge's built-in arm blasters.

    Luke swung his blade towards the bounty hunter's rifle cannon and sliced it in two, once again pushing Durge far away with the Force.

    "We can't stay here for long," Luke said, urging his fellow Masters to return to their speeders.

    Up above, two units of Sycks and Vipers appeared from the nearest Dor'bulla, swarming in the direction of the Jedi.

    Luke scrambled into his speeder and pulled the lever, taking off with another blast from Durge's arm cannons sailing over his head.

    Dusk was setting on Tatooine, with the twin suns glowing red and violet in the sky.

    Luke hardly had time to appreciate the beauty of the sunset as he sped off alongside his fellow Jedi scouts, but he hoped that by the next sunset, peace would have been restored.

    It seemed to be an unlikely goal, but the sight of the binary sunset reminded Luke of the ideals that he had come to fight for, after a lifetime of seeking adventure. He had once longed to leave his life of routine for a dose of action- and now Luke felt as though he had experienced far too much.

    CHANDRILIA

    Cal Omas was already seated aboard the large transport carrier that would deliver him and the rest of the boarding party back to Coruscant.

    Sam was marched out of the garrison, still wearing the bindercuffs he had arrived in, with two riflemen on either side of him.

    General Praxium and Colonel Kargill followed a short distance behind, with the rest of the battalion standing at attention.

    "What's that?" one of the guards asked, pointing up at the roof on top of the barracks.

    Everybody turned to the sound of a lightsaber igniting.

    Kira somersaulted down from the roof twenty feet onto the pathway to the carrier, landing in front of Sam and the others.

    Kira raised her hand and used the Force to undo Sam's cuffs.

    He stated for a brief second with shock, which was immediately replaced by joy.

    "Kira!" he exclaimed, "I can't believe you're here!"

    He was immediately hit by a rifle, and the entire present company turned their weapons towards Kira, ready to open fire.

    "We've got you right where we want you, Jedi," Hoff Praxium growled.

    Kira Force-leapt over Sam and landed in front of Praxium. She held her lightsaber to his neck and said, "One move and he dies!"

    Kira moved behind the Republic general, keeping her lightsaber at his throat. Then, holding onto his shoulder, Kira began to guide Praxium away from the battalion and barracks.

    "Come on, Sam, let's get out of here," Kira urged.

    "I can't believe it," Sam repeated.

    The Brigadiers slowly followed as Sam ran to join Kira, their weapons still trained on their targets.

    Kira glared back at them fiercely, waving her lightsaber in front of Praxium's face in warning. The general's wide eyes shined a hint of blue with the rest of his face as the ozone from Kira's blade drifted into his nostrils.

    Colonel Kargill gaped at the scene, then turned to the Brigadiers.

    "Hold your fire," she ordered them.

    "You'll never get away with this, either of you," Praxium said.

    Kira ignored him, leading him and Sam towards Ailyn's ship, which Kira had flown closer to the garrison for a sooner takeoff.

    "Where have you been all this time?" Sam asked as he followed his rescuer and her hostage to the docked Slave II.

    "I'll tell you about it later," Kira said, "We have to get away from these people first."

    "You call yourself a soldier, boy?" Praxium yelled, determined to cause whatever damage he could in atonement for his humiliation, "You're nothing but a sniveling runt, needing to be rescued by a little girl! And you, without your glowing stick, you're just a heartbroken good for nothing little harpy!"

    Kira could not speak, but instead she dug her palm into the general's round cheek, trembling with hatred.

    Praxium stopped his enraged ramble and went limp, gasping for breath as his midichlorians began to fail him.

    "Kira, what are you doing?" Sam asked, looking into his friend's eyes with fear and alarm. Something had changed in her, he realized, something alarming. Kira's eyes began to glow with a twinkle that seemed alien and disturbing.

    Kira continued to speak to Praxium's midichlorians, which were far fewer than either Tenebrous or Savage's.

    Praxium soon lost his breath and slumped unconscious against his captor.

    "Kira, what did you do?" Sam asked, looking at his father's lifeless body in horror.

    "No time to explain, let's go!" Kira replied, just as horrified now that she saw what her abilities had just done.

    "Open fire!" Colonel Kargill yelled, seeing her superior's body.

    "Grab his arm!" Kira yelled.

    Sam took hold of his father's arm that Kira was not clutching, and they both ran into the open hatch of Slave I.

    The Brigadiers shot to kill, striking the Firespray as Kira slammed on the button to close the hatch.

    Sam let his father drop onto the floor and followed Kira as she sped to the cockpit. He didn't make it as far as the doorway before she was in the pilot's seat, pulling the throttle to take off with all the sheer strength that her arm could manage.

    "Kira, you just killed my father!" Sam said, standing in the doorway to the cockpit, looking between Kira and Praxium's body.

    "I'll fix it in just a second," Kira replied, "I just need to get us out of here."

    Down by the garrison, Colonel Kargill and her Brigadiers began to return to the barracks once Slave II was out of sight.

    Supreme Commander Omas emerged from his shuttle with the Senate guards and additional armed protection.

    "Vizier, did you see what the Jedi did?" Colonel Kargill asked, "It was General Solo's daughter."

    "I'm afraid so," Omas replied with a grim nod, "It looks like we'll have to begun a hunt for Kira Solo for the murder of General Praxium."

    Once the Firespray exited Chandrilia's atmosphere, Sam grabbed Kira's arm and pulled her from the cockpit.

    "My dad!" he said, shaking her, "You didn't even touch him with your lightsaber, and he dropped dead. Did you do it on purpose?"

    "No!" Kira insisted. "Well, sort of. I'll explain in a second."

    She flicked the switch to bring the ship into autopilot and hurried back out of the cockpit.

    "He's definitely dead?" Sam asked as Kira felt his pulse.

    "I can bring him back," Kira replied, "It's his midichlorians!"

    "His what?" Sam demanded, thoroughly confused.

    "Just keep it shut until I figure this out!" Kira snapped, starting to come to her senses. She had spoken with Anakin about the dangers of midichlorian manipulation, and as soon as she was provoked, she had used it on an enemy. And not to mention using the dark side against the bounty hunter...

    Kira gently put her hand on Praxium's chest and concentrated hard, screaming through the Force at his midichlorians.

    Come back, she told them, come back.

    She had to make this work, for Sam's sake. As much as Sam was at odds with his father, she could tell that he didn't want the man dead. And this was just ad much for Kira's own sake, she realized, otherwise she'd just committed her first cold blooded murder.

    Finally, Hoff's organs began to awaken, starting with the nervous system and his blood began to flow.

    Kira listened with desperation, screaming at him to breath again. Finally, his stomach moved up and down, and air came out of his nostrils.

    "He's alive!" Kira exclaimed, the giant boulder in her chest crumbling into bits. She felt like crying with relief amongst her lingering rage.

    Hoff began to wake up, blinking wildly as he looked between Kira and Sam.

    "What did you do to me?" he asked weakly, now a shadow of his former self.

    Kira seized Praxium by the collar and hoisted him up.

    She pushed him into the cargo hold of Slave II and slammed the door shut as soon as he staggered inside.

    "Okay, you have a lot of explaining to do," Sam said with no small degree of wonder and awe.

    "How about thanking me for coming to save you," Kira suggested, "It's the least you could do after not saying goodbye to me."

    "Fair enough," Sam replied, "Thank you, Kira, really. I'm sorry I just left, I just didn't..."

    "Hey, forget about it," Kira replied, throwing her arms around her friend, "We're here together now and that's all that matters."

    As Sam returned Kira's embrace, she realized with a jolt of horror that she felt the same rush of power that she had back in the laboratory. Kira felt powerful controlling the life force of others, and she wanted more of it.

    Recognizing these harmful desires, Kira struggled to them push them out of her mind as her heart remained filled with rejuvenated warmth. And this time, she couldn’t stop the tears from flowing along with her many conflicting emotions.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2022
  8. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    TATOOINE

    Naturally, the starship of Ailyn Fett would look alarming to a Jedi or ally, but the crime syndicates would think nothing of it entering Tatooine space.

    The sound of Hoff's banging inside the cargo hold was fortunately faint.

    As Slave II approached the planet of Tatooine with Kira and Sam in the cockpit, the disgraced Major asked his old friend, "Have you seen anybody else after...you know? Before coming to help me?"

    Kira closed her eyes with grief and shook her head. "You're the first. It's a long story, but...I was doing nothing for a long time, months. Just wandering planet to planet. Then I decided to seek out force knowledge that the Jedi don't have."

    "You mean like the trick you used with my father?" Sam asked, "I don't think they taught you that at the Academy."

    "There was somebody watching me, somebody watching everything that's been happening in the galaxy. An old Sith Lord who was thought dead."

    "You learned from a Sith?" Sam marveled, not able to hide his surprise and slight horror.

    "Just one technique, the power to control midichlorians. And he said that he wasn't a Sith anymore, but I guess he changed his mind. Ultor got to him."

    "You've seen Ultor?" Sam asked.

    "Not yet," Kira said with a slight growl. She was still high off of her demonstration of the midichlorian exploits, and she felt all the more eager for a fight. "But I know that when I do see him again, I'll be ready. He'll be an easy job to finish."

    "You sound very sure of yourself," Sam said, shaking his head, "You've changed quite a bit since I last saw you."

    "I'm sure you've been in touch...with everybody?" Kira asked.

    "That's why I got caught," Sam replied, "I stayed in contact with Tahiri, helping the Jedi stay ahead of the Republic."

    This caused Kira to turn her head sharply, an inexplicable and sudden discomfort taking hold of her.

    "You've been in contact with Tahiri?" she asked- a mix of remorse and jealousy coursing through her veins. It did nothing to keep down her dark urges.

    She could not entirely hide a scowl.

    "She's been worried about you too," Sam said, "she'll be very excited to see you."

    "I'm sure," Kira replied distantly.

    The suns had nearly vanished from the red and purple sky by the time the two Coalition battleships arrived out of lightspeed.

    From the main Hutt Cartel Dor'bulla, Krunge the Toydarian major domo spoke via hologram with both Rotta, who had entered his father Jabba's palace deep within the Dune Sea's rocky region, and Gorga, who had led an army of IG assassin droids into Mos Espa's main administration building.

    "There's two Sith crusiers approaching Tatooine space," Krunge said, "It seems as though the Dark Master has finally shown up."

    "We cannot be under his thumb any longer," Gorga determined, "shoot him down before he can land."

    Ultor glared from the command bridge of the Phantom Revenge at the Hutt Cartel fleet.

    Behind him, both Plagueis and Talon approached. The Shadowtrooper workers below deck were already positioning the cruiser's cannons to fire.

    "What shall we do, Dark Master?" the lead officer inquired from down below.

    "Destroy everything in your path," Ultor replied.

    He used the Force to activate the floor projector, which brought to life the full- color image of Darth Bane.

    "Lord Bane, lead the Sith crew and destroy any Hutt vessels in sight," Plagueis said, using the Force to maintain the spell he had cast on the undead.

    "We will crush them without mercy," Bane replied.

    "Do you feel them down there, Master?" Talon inquired, "the Jedi?"

    Ultor nodded, reaching out to sense all Force energy coming from the surface of Tatooine.

    "The day of reckoning is at hand," he said, "And we will no fail to eliminate the Jedi. Skywalker and Kira Solo, I will attend to personally. The rest of the Jedi, your Sith army can deal with."

    Plagueis nodded his understanding. "They will not fail the dark side."

    "Come with me, my lord," Ultor said to the older Sith, starting to walk away and beckoning for Plagueis to follow.

    Talon started to join them, but Ultor said, "Command the ship as it prepares to attack."

    Talon looked hurt, glaring resentfully after Plagueis as he followed Ultor into the corridor.

    "I think it's time you upheld your end," Ultor began as they walked up the staircase towards his private quarters, "I am giving you the chance to lead the climatic battle that will extinguish the light once and for all. I think it is time that you shared your secrets with me."

    "The midichlorians?" Plagueis asked.

    "Yes," Ultor replied, "Show me what you showed the Solo girl."

    Plagueis considered this. "I could, but I do not wish to harm my partner in the ultimate crusade of darkness."

    "You flatter me, good master," Ultor replied with no touch of pleasure in his voice or expression, "We have a crew of expendable men whose lives are more than worth the sacrifice."

    "Very well," Plagueis replied.

    He hobbled to the exit of Ultor's quarters and spotted a passing Shadowtrooper.

    Using the Force, Plagueis seized the armored man's throat with his aged, bony hand and pulled him into the air and into the chamber.

    Ultor watched with mild amusement as Plagueis let the man drop to the ground, gagging.

    "Master, what's happening to me?" the Shadowtrooper asked, looking to Ultor with terrified desperation.

    Ultor finally managed a smile as Plagueis extended his skinny arm to the sprawled man, taking his life force through midichlorian control.

    "I'm putting his midichlorians to sleep," Damask explained, "When they are no longer active, he will die. If I reverse the process, he will return to life."

    Ultor watched with facination, but also felt a surge of envy. He knew that if he could not master this ability soon enough, he would have to find a way to get rid of Plagueis.

    The soldier continued to fight for his life before finally passing out, his brain and heart functions finally ceasing.

    "Feel his midichlorians as they go to sleep," Plagueis said, "I can kill with hardly any physical effort, and revive the dead. I can order the midichlorians to stop their host from dying. The Jedi would never dare attempt any such thing."

    Ultor could not help but feel a touch of genuine, yet grudging, respect.

    "I want to learn," he said, "I want to have this power."

    Plagueis looked away, pondering his next move. He did not want Ultor to match him in power, but he knew that he needed the young man's alliance for now.

    "Once we have destroyed the Jedi, we shall go to the Wellspring of Life," Plagueis replied, "It was there that I discovered the birthplace of the midichlorians, and communicated with them. The Wellspring of Life is the source of all Force generation, and the root of its communication with living beings."

    "This wellspring...this is a place that we could really go?" Ultor asked, determined not to sound too interested. He kept a growl to his voice as he listened curious.

    "It is near impossible to find without a deep connection to the Force," Plagueis replied with his raspy voice, "But I have discovered it before. Together, we can again."

    "I am trusting your word alone," Ultor said, maintaining his cold demeanor. He began to exit his quarters, glaring at Plagueis. "I hope you will remember that, Dark Lord."

    Plagueis narrowed his sunken eyes in reply.

    As the two Sith Lords returned to the command deck, a heavy artillery blast came from the Dor'bulla, causing the entire cruiser to rock from the explosion.

    "Destroy them all!" Talon was shouting. The shadowtroopers scrambled to return fire, operating all laser cannons on the Phantom Revenge.

    The entranced Dark Lords of the past were serving as the crew of the other Dreadnought, following Bane's commands as they attacked the Dor'bulla fighter.

    A Falleen lieutenant said to Krunge, "I don't know how long we'll last against that firepower."

    Krunge wiggled through the air as the Dor'bulla took a massive hit.

    "We must..." the rest of his sentence was cut off as the two Sith vessels sent waves of fire into the Dor'bulla, causing it to erupt in flames and gas and crumble into several chunks of flying aluminum into the cosmos.

    The remaining Hutt Cartel ships began to return fire, with Syck fighters emerging to assist, but they were nowhere near as fast as a cruiser controlled by a team of Sith Lords.

    Explosion after explosion lit up the orbit around Tatooine as the Phantom Revenge sped around the revolution of the planet.

    The Hutt council members who remained in orbit began to slither as quickly as they could towards the Hawk gunships specialized to carry beings of their weight, as crew members and hired guns likewise scrambled in panic.

    Rotta spoke via holoconference with the remaining Hutt council members who were in a position to communicate.

    "We must contact Black Sun, and the Pykes, and any other syndicates willing to fight," he said, "Our way of life will be under attack from the Sith just as much as it is from the Republic."

    Down in Anchorhead, as the young Jedi ushered the citizens into the shops and shipyards for cover, Jysella pointed up at the very visible battle between the villainous ships.

    "Looks like we've got more company," she said.

    "Big trouble for us," Ganner said, "There's definitely Sith up there."

    "There's more of them in the city!" a moisture farmer exclaimed fearfully.

    "Sith?" asked Tahiri.

    "No!" the farmer pointed as a unit of IG droids and Gammorean guards appeared from two separate alleyways.

    The Knights activated their lightsabers to deflect fire from the droids and guards, immediately doing so as the droids fired.

    Tahiri used the Force to push one Gammorean into another, knocking out the second one and stunning the first.

    The sound of more speeders came overhead as the Masters rushed to join their students.

    "We can't beat that one so easily," Tionne said, deflecting shots from the assassin droids, "His armor is resistant to our lightsaber blades."

    Luke arrived in his landspeeder a moment later. Leaping out, he raised both hands to send a big wave at the remaining Coalition forces, sending them flying into the shadows of night.

    "The Sith have arrived," he said, "Far more than there were in the Coalition."

    "How could there be so many?" Glut Nodlad wondered, "Ultor only had six lieutenants."

    "There's deeper and more sinister forces at work here," Luke concluded, "dark powers beyond even Ultor."

    Tahiri gasped and took a deep breath as she sensed the Force-presences approaching.

    "I don't believe it," she breathed, watching a Firespray fly from the twilight sky into the atmosphere towards them.

    "None of us can," Tionne replied, "That is why we must..."

    "No, it's Kira!" Tahiri exclaimed, her fear immediately replaced by joy and elation.

    Luke gazed at the approaching ship with apprehension, resembling his last conversation with his niece. He sensed an improvement in her, she was no longer angry with the Jedi, but there was also something more frightening within her.

    Back at the Lars homestead, Leia ran into the shed inside the Larshomestead,which they had converted into living quarters where she and Han took residence.

    "Han, Han!" she shouted.

    "What is it, sweetheart?" Han asked in alarm.

    "Han," Leia repeated, trembling.

    Han slipped out of his cot quickly and took hold of his wife, shaking her.

    Slave II docked in the midst of Anchorhead's main avenue, where the residents and farmers had taken cover.

    Tahiri was the first to approach the Firespray as it's engine shut down, the ramp sliding down in a slow, dramatic fashion.

    She froze with a mix of excitement and a new sensation of nervousness- how would Kira react to her now?

    Sam was the first to come out, smiling faintly. He still wore his old uniform, but he looked bruised and scratched like he had taken a beating.

    "Sam!" Tahiri shouted, running to him.

    Kira froze inside Ailyn's ship as she saw Tahiri hug Sam like an old friend. There was something about this that she did not like, so much that she felt the dark impulses that the midichlorians had introduced surging forward once again.

    Tahiri asked, "How did you get away?"

    "An old friend came to help me," Sam replied.

    He gestured towards the hatch of Slave II, where Kira was standing with a cold expression on her face.

    Behind Tahiri and Sam, Luke was also studying the scene tensely. He was glad that his niece had returned, but he sensed a new darkness in her that had not even been present when she had fled from the Jedi Order.

    Tahiri gently approached the ramp, her heart racing with nervous dread.

    "Kira..." she said in a soft voice, "I'm so glad that you're here. Ive missed you, we all have."

    Kira did not move for a long minute, scowling while not knowing why she was reacting this way. Tahiri was her best friend of five years, her first friend at the Academy. Why should she not be happy to see her? And why should Tahiri not be happy to see Sam either?

    Finally, Kira ran to her and flung her arms around Tahiri, who hugged her friend tightly.

    "I'm sorry," Kira ranted, "I should never have run away, or treated you the way I did."

    "I worried about you the whole time, everybody did," Tahiri replied, "You were going through unimaginable grief and pain and we wanted to help."

    Kira finally looked over to her uncle Luke, who had remained silent. She still felt a flash of resentment at the sight of him, but it was mingled with definite sorrow.

    She remained silent until Luke took the merciful first step.

    "It's good to have you back, Kira," the Jedi Grand Master finally said, "Now, we all have a serious challenge ahead of us, possibly the greatest battle the Jedi has ever fought."

    "I can win it," Kira said confidently, "I'm more powerful now. The Sith and the Coalition don't have a chance."

    Luke raised his eyebrows, surprised. Tahiri looked similarly worried. Only Sam seemed to understand.

    "Are you going to do to all of those people the same as you did my father?" Sam asked.

    "What is he talking about, Kira?" Luke asked with growing concern.

    "He's alive," Kira replied hastily, hurrying up the ramp of Slave II to re-enter the ship and open up the cargo hold, "He's right here."

    As soon as Kira opened the door, Hoff Praxium came bursting out, wielding a blaster from Ailyn's collection.

    "Don't move, Jedi scum," Praxium hissed, backing Kira outside and down the ramp.

    Praxium froze as he saw seven armed Jedi and a large cluster of Tatooine civilians, all gathered together, with a trail of Coalition casualties in their wake.

    He dropped the pistol and backed into the ship once again.

    "Coward," Kira spat fiercely.

    Sam turned to Luke.

    "Are there more of you here?" he asked.

    Luke nodded. "The Jedi are sheltered at the old homestead of my aunt and uncle, beyond Beggar's Canyon. We've built a larger safehouse to host everybody."

    "I'll take my father there to keep him out of the way," Sam offered, "Is General Solo here too?"

    Luke nodded, and both Kira and Sam squirmed with discomfort.

    "Are my parents okay?" Kira asked, "Have they been all right, since I left?"

    Luke bowed his head sadly. "They've mourned the loss of both their children, but they'll be overjoyed to see you again."

    "We will have to deal with the Sith soon, before they overtake the planet and the entire Outer Rim," Tionne chimed in.

    "I think they'll be occupied for a while," Luke said, gazing up at the space battle overhead.

    Up in orbit of Tatooine, additional Hutt Dor'bulla had joined the fight against the Sith cruisers. In addition, a Black Sun skyhook was deploying fighters to keep them busy.

    "Crush them all!" Darth Bane ordered as the Sith Lords continued to operate the cannons.

    Meanwhile, Talon had boarded her personal Infiltrator to join the fray, blasting down every fighter within her path.

    In the Phantom Revenge, Ultor was hurrying towards his own ship in the main hangar, which was trembling from blast after blast. Darth Plagueis followed behind him, staggering from the blows and his own evident fragility.

    "We have a far more significant battle to attend to," Ultor declared, boarding his craft without another second's delay. Plagueis hobbled in a split second later, and the ship blasted off the hangar floor and towards the surface of Tatooine.

    Watching the space battle between the Sith and the Coalition, Luke flashed back to a day many years ago. He had been with his friends Biggs and Camie, telling them about a space battle he had witnessed on the sky between the Rebels and the Empire.

    "There'll be more Coalition men here soon," Ganner said, "What're we going to do, Master?"

    "I'll deal with the Sith, the rest of you nuts stay with the people here to keep them safe," Luke said.

    "I'm not staying here," Kira said firmly, "I will face Ultor again. You know he has to die, Master. He's a scourge on the whole galaxy."

    Luke knew she was right. Palpatine couldn't have lived to continue his menace, and sadly it seemed that Ultor somehow needed to be put down.

    "Are you going to kill him, if you face him?" Kira persisted.

    Luke shook his head with sorrow. "I will do what is right by the Jedi code, and the galaxy."

    "I've made up my mind," Kira replied, "And I have the ability."

    "Kira, we're going to have to talk," Luke said, "about these powers..."

    "Hey!" Tahiri yelled suddenly.

    Hoff Praxium had jumped onto a swoop bike, clumsily climbing aboard the seat.

    He flipped the engine switch to activate it and took off into the night.

    "Are we going to let him go?" Tahiri asked.

    "He is not worth our effort," replied Tionne gently.

    "We have no time to lose," Kahn said.

    To the farmers and other residents, Luke said, "My Jedi here will keep you safe when the Coalition comes. The Hutts are determined to take back Tatooine, but we won't let them."

    A cry of exhilaration rang through the crowd of civilians.

    "We are ever indebted to your service," an older farmer said

    "Kira, before I leave, I'm going to have to talk with you," Luke said with a sigh, turning to depart down the alleyway.

    Kira began to follow apprehensively as Luke began to stride towards the outskirts. The moon had risen over the desert sky by this time.

    "Kira, you've learned a very dark power from a Sith," Luke said, very matter-of-fact about his statement.

    "Did Anakin tell you?" Kira asked.

    "Not directly, but he is going to do what he can to make sure you don't fall too far into the inferno. That's the role of all Jedi spirits- to make sure that their wisdom as well as their base knowledge is maintained after their deaths."

    "But with the midichlorian powers, you don't ever have to become a spirit," Kira argued, "Damask has been able to keep himself alive for decades. You already know what he's done with all those Sith."

    "My father has already spoken with you about the dangers of life force manipulation," Luke replied, "And you've seen the true nature of Darth Plagueis, and his abilities. You saw how easily he slipped back to evil when provoked. Look at the battle above."

    "He has a powerful weapon that we don't have," Kira asserted, "Why can't we use it to win?"

    "Because there are more important things than being alive," Luke replied, "and immortality is not the greatest power at our disposal."

    He stopped in front of an abandoned abode building with two stories and a walkway onto the rooftop meant for observing the stars.

    Kira followed Luke into the small structure and looked around at the various parts and mechanical goods that had been left.

    "Where are we, Uncle Luke?" Kira asked.

    "Tosche Station," Luke replied, "This was an old hangout of mine, when I was your age."

    He fondly touched a small device composed of wires and a long antenna.

    "Power converters."

    Luke was feeling uncharacteristically sentimental right before the ultimate reckoning, he realized.

    "I hope you understand the truth about the midichlorians even with it's apparent benefits, they are not meant to be tampered with they the beings that they occupy, it's a symbiotic bond."

    Kira was silent, pondering everything. Luke turned to exit the abandoned Tosche Station.

    "We should stay focused on the moment," he said, chiding himself far more than Kira, "I need you to rejoin the others and stay with them."

    "Where are you going?" Kira asked.

    Luke stared up beyond the rooftops of Anchorhead determinedly.

    "I have to preserve the sanctity of the Jedi and the light, and that means stopping its threats at the source."

    "You're not going anywhere without forgetting us, are you kid?" asked a voice that made Kira shudder with dreaded anticipation.

    Luke turned to find Han and Leia arriving in the street, rushing to him.

    "We thought you needed the help," Leia added.

    "This is something I must do," Luke said, "It's my responsibility."

    "We understand," Leia replied.

    Kira's throat and chest were locked as she slowly shuffled out of Tosche Station to fully view her parents.

    They both gaped as soon as they saw their grown daughter, who was radiating a mixture of nerves and restlessness.

    "Kira," Leia gasped, choking on the name.

    "Mom, Dad, I've come back," Kira said in a small, meek voice that did not match the volcano raging inside her.

    "It's really you," Han replied, not daring to believe what he saw. He stepped forward to slowly place his hand on his daughter's shoulder, as if touching her would make it more real.

    "I'm sorry for leaving when I did," Kira said, "especially after Ben..."

    She stopped, finding it physically impossible to finish.

    "We understand," Leia replied, wrapping both her daughter and husband in a tight embrace.

    Luke could not help but smile warmly at the sight.

    He needed to see this reconciliation before the inevitable that remained ahead.

    Han and Leia looked over to Luke from behind Kira, silently giving him their love and encouragement.

    Luke returned the gaze, giving a salute before walking off to his landspeeder.

    Han and Leia's arms remained draped around Kira as they returned to join the other Jedi.

    Luke was inaudibly exchanging words with his fellow Masters before climbing into his speeder.

    A moment later, the Grand Master began racing down the main avenue of Anchorhead, towards the plains.

    As soon as the Solos rejoined the party, Han glanced over at the young officer who was in the middle of instructing a group of young moisture farmers in shooting.

    Sam looked up from the teenager he was directing at the wall target inside the hollow cantina and looked at Han anxiously.

    "Excuse me," he said, exiting to greet the Solos.

    "You're looking worse for wear, kid," Han remarked slyly.

    Sam blushed and said, "General, I've never felt good about the way we left things off."

    "Don't worry about it, Commander, I was too harsh," Han replied, "What matters is that we're all here now."

    Ultor's Herald gracefully began to dock on top of Red Cliff in the Jundland Wastes.

    Side by side, the two Sith Masters exited the craft, surveying the landscape of the desert night.

    "I will deal with Luke Skywalker," Ultor said definitively to his senior, "The others can be yours for the taking, Lord Plagueis."

    "I sense the Solo girl among the gatherers below," Plagueis replied, "She is eager for a fight, all the more now that I have introduced her to my secrets."

    "They'll do her no good now," Ultor sneered, glaring at the town below.

    In the system surrounding Tatooine, the syndicate fleets were beginning to overwhelm the two Sith cruisers.

    "How much longer can we hold out against those ships?" Darth Erebor, a muscular Neimodian, asked.

    "We must be pragmatic if we are to win this battle," Bane replied, "Issue a retreat until we can come back with greater firepower."

    In the midst of a dogfight with a swarm of Vipers, Talon watched with surprise as the second Coalition cruiser began to make the jump into lightspeed.

    "Weak fools," she snapped, "I knew those tricks were no good."

    She began to steer her Infiltrator through the massive battle towards the planet surface, deciding that there was no ground to be won up in the stars.

    As Talon began to flee, several new warships began to appear out of lightspeed, belonging to the navy of the New Republic.

    On the lead ship, the Serpent Claw, Cal Omas watched as his cruisers deployed their Interceprots into the chaotic fray.

    "Prepare for maximum firepower from the enemy," he said into the Comm channel that broadcast throughout the fleet.

    "Remember, our goal is to pave a way to the surface," Admiral Ackbar chimed in.

    Luke's mind was clear as he sped across the desert back to the Jundland Wastes, the past and future no longer existing as entities.

    Not even the dark shadows lurking overhead plagued Luke's thoughts as the towering cliffs and ledges drew closer. His mission was to stop the powers responsible for the revival of the Sith, and keep them from ravaging the planet and the rest of the galaxy.

    Finally, when Grand Master Skywalker reached the lowest pathway that led up from the sandy beds into the Jundland Wastes, he pulled the lever to halt his landspeeder.

    He took a deep breath as he exited and began to climb his way into the beast's lair.

    Ultor stood alone on the ledge as he waited for Luke's arrival. With Plagueis inside, the Herald took off into the air, aiming low with the intention of landing in the Dune Sea near the town of Anchorhead.

    The army of about thirty moisture farmers and workers stood strong alongside the Jedi as they watched the arrival of the Hawk gunships carrying additional mercenaries.

    The magical hum of the lightsaber snapping to life was multiplied by eight as the blades ignited.

    The Tatooinians raised their blasters and various weapons to open fire as the Coalition ships approached, wasting no time in letting loose their own ammunition.

    "Fall back!" Han shouted as a volley of missiles struck the nearby spaceport, reducing it into a ball of ash.

    Kira ran along with the others as they hurried away from the incoming fleet, deflecting shots that came her way with her lightsaber.

    Suddenly, Durge's boot struck the alleyway, and he tore into the city, in search of the Jedi.

    His arm cannons were showing no restraint as he came across Glut Nodlad, striking the Duros Master hard with his fist.

    "Kira, it's that bounty hunter we fought!" Sam yelled, pointing at the towering Durge.

    Kira saw him and did not hesitate, charging at him as he gazed her way.

    "Time to finish the job," Durge said in his deep voice, raising a fist to slam into Kira.

    "Kira, no!" Han yelled as his daughter charged across the alleyway to confront the bounty hunter as he tore apart a junkyard entrance with his bare hands.

    Kira remembered the rage she had directed at Ailyn Fett and Hoff Praxium, and the hatred she still felt towards Ultor.

    She concentrated on the mechanisms of life within the metal bounty hunter as she reached out to him, ignoring the steel fist about to crush her.

    "No!"

    Leia used the Force to catch Durge's arm in midair, pushing him back and away from Kira.

    Tahiri joined the fray and assisted Leia as Durge struggled against their might.

    "I can kill him!" Kira yelled as she continued to advance, "I'm stronger now!"

    Durge let out an angry bowl as he continued to resist the Force pushes from Leia and Tahiri.

    "Kira, come on!" Tahiri cried.

    Black Sun bombers had began to sail over the desert, ready to let loose on Anchorhead.

    At that moment, however, the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Chewbacca, entered the scene, leading a team of fifteen Jedi StealthXs, piloted by the young Knights and Masters who had stayed behind at the homestead.

    "It's Chewie!" Han yelled.

    Leia and Tahiri were distracted from Durge, allowing him to reach Kira in a second, catching her with his giant swinging hand.

    Kira swiped her lightsaber at him and stuck the visor that revealed the Gen'Dai's eyes.

    Durge roared and hurled Kira aside, causing her to fly over the domed and rectangular Adobe rooftops with a scream, before landing on top of Tosche Station.

    Kira could barely move from the agony as her bones burned from the blow.

    "Everybody aboard!" Han yelled as he and Sam began to guide the civilians aboard the Millennium Falcon, instantly filling up its round corridor and passenger hold.

    Chewbacca had emerged as soon as the old ship landed in the main square of Anchorhead and begun firing his bowcaster at the enemy ships, covered by the Jedi pilots.

    Kira gazed down at the retreating Jedi and Tatooine residents from the roof of Tosche Station, watching as Durge continued to mow down everything in his path.

    "Where's Kira?" Han asked as he and Leia reached the cockpit of the Falcon.

    Durge's fist tore into the building nearest to the Falcon, causing a layer of rubble to strike the hull.

    "We have to go, Han!" Leia replied as she jumped into the pilot's seat.

    Narrowly avoiding Durge's wrath, the Falcon took off into the night, streaking through the volleys of enemy fire.

    Kira managed to hop down from the rooftop as soon as her parents' ship took off.

    She remembered Ailyn's craft and began to stagger in the general direction of it, before the sound of a Herald-class shuttle sounded over the roars and rampage of Durge.

    Kira knew instantly who was in there, not to mention the danger she was in.

    She activated her lightsaber once again and waved it cautiously in front of her as Ultor's ship landed just outside of the city.

    Kira walked slowly towards the town border, past a herd of grazing eopies as the Herald docked.

    Kira widened her stance and gripped her handle with both of her small, clammy hands. The hum of her blade seemed to drown out all other noise as the Coalition ships departed.

    Finally, a lone figure emerged from the Sith craft, tottering yet full of dark power waiting to be unleashed.

    Kira approached Plagueis with no fear, ready to strike him down.

    "You decided to side with him," Kira growled, eager to display all the bravery within her, "That was a mistake you won't be coming back from."

    "I will, soon enough," Plagueis replied with a predatory snarl, "Once you and the rest of your kind are dealt with."

    Kira took one more step towards the old Munn, who did not move from his position just off the ramp.

    "What are you waiting for, Jedi?" Plagueis asked, "Go ahead, strike me down. I'm the perfect target for all the rage inside you. Use it the way you set out to."

    Kira knew better than to waste any more time.

    She let out a yell of fury as she charged at Plagueis, her blue blade illuminating the dark shadows on the sand.

    Plagueis raised his spidery hands and released a web of lightning to intercept the young Jedi in her path.
     
  9. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    TATOOINE

    Luke gazed up the rocky pathway to find an obscured figure standing near the cliff summit, waiting for him at the top of the canyon.

    The presence of Ultor felt no different in Luke's senses than it had on Ossus, or on that fateful last day in the Coruscant Jedi Temple.

    Luke took a brief moment to absorb the silhouette of his former adopted son and protege before approaching. Ultor did not move, but waited as Luke climbed up to the canyon top.

    "So, you've finally come to meet your match," Ultor said, staring blankly at the Grand Master. This was the first time in more than ten years that Luke had a clear look at the younger man's face, he realized, and it chilled him to the bone.

    Those yellow eyes, the pale skin, the hatred within. Skyler had been consumed by a monster.

    "You have escaped my powers for far too long, Skywalker," Ultor continued, "No longer. Tonight, I shall prove the resilience of the dark side over the light. I'll bet you're sorry you ever found me."

    His lightsaber hilt was already wrapped in his gloved fist.

    Luke drew his own saber, but did not ignite it. He began to pace the rocky surface overlooking Beggar's Canyon, while Ultor circled around him.

    "I am sorry," Luke replied, "Sorry that I didn't see the trouble brewing, and guide you on the right path. Maybe if I'd acted sooner, you'd still be a Jedi instead of this twisted thing."

    "Well, it's too late now, isn't it, Luke?" Ultor asked, activating the blood red blade of his lightsaber, "You know as well as I do that there is no alternative to what is about to come."

    "I refuse to believe that," Luke replied, "The light never goes out for good, not in the galaxy, and not in our hearts. This does not have to end in violence."

    "Maybe not, but it will," Ultor snarled, "Goodbye, Luke Skywalker."

    The Dark Master let out a roar as he dashed at Luke, who finally ignited his green blade to defend himself.

    He pushed Ultor back with his lightsaber, but the young Sith counterattacked with a harder strike, keeping Luke on the defensive.

    Ultor struck hard at his Jedi foe repeatedly, with red and green dancing around one another in the Tatooine night.

    Spinning around, Ultor crouched low and aimed a kick at Luke. Luke backflipped in the opposite direction and widened his stance as Ultor charged again.

    Their blades clashed and each duelist pushed hard, bringing their lightsabers close to the other's face.

    Luke stared hard into the hateful eyes of his ward, determined not to back down.

    Once again, Luke broke away from the impasse, carrying himself high into the air and aiming for a slightly higher ledge.

    Ultor did not advance towards the boulder Luke was standing on, but instead used the Force to grab it.

    Consequently, Luke lost his balance and stumbled, before rolling onto the main cliff once again.

    Ultor lifted the rock high into the air before slamming it downward with his hands, directing it towards Luke.

    Luke saw the boulder falling in his direction and used his lightsaber to slice it in half. Both pieces of the rock collapsed with loud thuds on the canyon ledge.

    Ultor sprang in Luke's direction with a deadly spin.

    Avoiding his young opponent, Luke jumped onto one of the halves of the sliced boulder and used the Force to levitate the slice into the air, with him standing on it.

    Ultor glared with hatred at the Jedi Master, raising his lightsaber with one hand and flicking it in Luke's direction with bullet speed.

    Luke used the Force to accelerate the speed of his airborne platform, causing it to hover around the space above Ultor with himself retaining his balance on it.

    Ultor's lightsaber instead cut into the rock behind Luke, before the Dark Master summoned it back to him.

    "You choose to retreat rather than strike me down," Ultor observed with a growl, "You are weak just like the rest of the Jedi. Like the ones who died and will die once I am through with you."

    Luke ignored this remark, hovering on his mobile platform further away from Ultor, towards the edge of the canyon.

    Luke began to slowly glide downwards as Ultor rushed to finish him off. Luke was too fast, floating down towards a lower ledge.

    Ultor reached with his hand towards the other half of the boulder, pulling it in his direction before jumping on.

    In the fashion of his old mentor and father figure, Luke began to glide himself down the canyon after Luke, striking at him as soon as he reached the platform Luke was floating in midair with.

    Luke blocked Ultor's saber attack, using his half of the boulder to retreat as the latter advanced.

    Finally, Ultor stepped from his rock onto Luke's, striking harder against Luke's defenses.

    Once Ultor was off of his rock half, it fell fast towards the canyon floor and out of sight.

    Luke stepped back and off his platform as Ultor climbed onto it, falling until he landed ten feet below on the next ledge surface.

    Ultor jumped from the rock onto the ledge after Luke, who had resumed circling around him.

    "Come back, Skyler," Luke pleaded in a soft, solemn voice, "Don't continue down the path of inevitable self-destruction."

    "Look where it has gotten me," Ultor retorted, widening his stance in preparation to charge, "Look at the power I have gained."

    "You have gained nothing but chaos and betrayal," Luke replied, "but your soul is not gone. As long as it lives, there is a way back to the light."

    "What do you know about my soul?" Ultor replied, "After everything I've done, you still try and salvage whatever you think is left?" He was still consumed by his fury, but Luke detected a hint of uncertainty in the young man's voice.

    "Yes," Luke replied, "You may not be able to escape from your actions, but you can still escape from the fate that is in store. I won't stop trying to save you, I can't."

    "Why?" Ultor hissed, as confused as he was enraged.

    "Because that's what the light is," Luke replied, "it serves as an eternal beacon, calling you to it. The light side always believes in redemption, no matter how far you've gone. I believe in it, just as I believe in you, Skyler I believe you can come back."

    Ultor stood upright, pacing slightly. He deactivated his lightsaber, to Luke's surprise. The Grand Master did not hesitate to switch off his own saber in response, as Ultor turned away from him to face the moon and stars.

    The fire went away from Ultor's eyes, for just a moment, as he considered the words of his adoptive father.

    Luke had once believed in his father's redemption, and he could not surrender the principles he had lived by then, even when the stakes were highest.

    "Come back with me, and you can have a fair trial when the crisis is settled. No matter what else happens, you will be free of the darkness that has consumed you. But you can still shed yourself if it. Come home with me, my son."

    Ultor trembled in his boots, his knees wobbling. He could feel the temptation inside him, the weakness starting to revive within him.

    With a snarl and a twist of his features, Ultor growled, "To think I almost fell for your trickery!"

    He backflipped in Luke's direction, forcing the Master to launch himself backwards against the wall of the gorge.

    Ultor charged at Luke with his blade aimed horizontally forward. Luke switched his own lightsaber back on and swatted the weapon of doom aside, before aiming a kick at Ultor's ribs with a heavy heart.

    The battle in space raged on, with the crime syndicates continuing to exchange maximum firepower with the Republic vessels and fighters.

    For miles surrounding the planet's orbit, Dor'bullas, skyhooks, and Dreadnoughts were lit on fire by enemy bombs, while pilots continued to evade and fire at one another. It was an explosion of color, with lasers flying in almost every inch of space between the factions.

    "Target their bombers first!" Trix Azer said as she led a unit towards the Dor'bulla commanded by Grappa the Hutt, who was slithering with a host of Neimodian and Trandoshan bodyguards towards the trembling hangar.

    Rotta and Gorga commanded additional forces from their hideouts on Tatooine, while Yerrin Serri and his fellow Vigos gave orders to Black Sun ships. The Pyke Syndicate had also joined the fray, with their specialized missiles curving until they struck holes in the Republic Dreadnoughts.

    There was no end in sight.

    Down in the ruins of Anchorhead, Kira moved her blade diagonally in the hopes of deflecting Plagueis's lightning, but it was coming at her in heavy doses.

    Nothing Kira could have done would have prepared her for the pain that the lightning brought on her upon making contact.

    She screamed as a million holes were drilled inside her, and a thousand fires raged in her arteries. Kira collapsed in a twitching fit, discarding her lightsaber.

    Plagueis, however, suddenly stopped his attack and stood over his former protege.

    "This power, these abilities beyond compare. They could still be yours, if you'll join me."

    Kira could not speak, but merely gasp for breath as she turned her head weakly to the tall, thin Muun, the sand digging into her messy hair.

    Plagueis reached for Kira and extended a hand.

    "I know you still hate Darth Ultor. We could destroy him together, and you could have access to all the power in the universe."

    "Never," Kira managed to say, still fighting heavily to breathe.

    Together, Luke and Ultor tumbled down the rocky canyon slope, venturing whatever blows they could at one another.

    Luke's robotic hand dug into a spear-shaped rock before slipping down the terminally steep surface, pointing his green blade at Ultor with his other hand.

    In turn, Ultor jabbed his lightsaber into a flat surfaced grove to keep himself from falling even further. He used the momentum of his lightsaber to propel his legs towards Luke's aiming a kick.

    Luke swung his entire body up so that his legs and middle were parallel to the ground below, then sliced downward in an attempt to disarm Ultor.

    The Sith Lord caught the small ledge with his elbow before pulling out his lightsaber and jabbing low.

    Luke pulled himself backwards before losing his balance, continuing to tumble downwards.

    He cut his lightsaber into the rocky cliffside so that it gently glided down the treacherous slope with Luke still holding onto the hilt for dear life.

    Finally, the Grand Master reached another surface, albeit a narrow one. He was now about two hundred feet above the sandy sea level.

    Ultor quickly climbed down to pursue Luke, hopping from rock to rock as he descended.

    When he was about twenty feet above Luke's level, Ultor began to grab chunks of rock with the Force, hurling them at his opponent a fast succession.

    Luke used the Force to catch each rock that flew his way, rearranging them into a revolving circle so that they spun around in harmony over his head.

    Then, he sent each one of them flying back at Ultor one at a time, aiming to knock him off his footing.

    Ultor leapt the rest of the distance to Luke's level, posing to charge.

    By this time, Luke realized that he was needed elsewhere, looking in the direction of Anchorhead, where flames were visible from the adobe ruins and residents and their eopie and speeder mounts were still fleeing into any direction they could.

    Ultor swung hard at Luke's head with his blade, and Luke was naturally quick enough to block the strike with his own saber, backing away from the repeated attacks.

    Ultor struck again and again at Luke, before the Grand Master suddenly parried low and sliced into Ultor's leg and dragged his blade through it before Ultor could strike Luke down.

    Ultor screamed in agony and staggered away from Luke, allowing him to pivot a sizable distance away and raised his free hand.

    A powerful wave hit Ultor's body, knocking him into the wall of jagged rock with enough force to shatter his spine.

    Ultor, however, was only mildly stunned as Luke turned and began to run down the narrow pathway, where his speeder was docked.

    Still badly injured, Ultor began to stagger after the older duelist, careful not to trip and fall down the canyon into the sand- which have Luke the time to leap downwards in a projectile motion.

    Ultor followed suit until Luke reached the surface from which he had climbed the Jundland Wastes cliff, sprinting towards his speeder.

    Ultor might have caught up to his elder, if not for his injury.

    He seethed with a bare of his teeth as he used the Force to propel his speed, chasing after Luke's disappearing landspeeder towards the wreckage around Anchorhead.

    "You had such potential," Plagueis was saying, circling around the still-weakened Kira, "I did not want to give up on you so easily. But if you will not cooperate, you will leave me no choice."

    Kira's arm fumbled through the sand until her fingers touched the cold surface of her lightsaber hilt.

    Damask raised his wrinkled hands in preparation to unleash more energy on her, but then sensed activity nearby and turned his cylinder head.

    "Now, the real battle begins," he said.

    Luke's landspeeder came to a sudden halt as soon as the sound of the engine became audible, and the Jedi Master leapt out of the driver's seat with his green blade ignited.

    "So, Luke Skywalker comes to the rescue ," Plagueis snarled, "You knew that she couldn't last against my dark power. Neither will you."

    "Your kind won't be corrupting another generation," Luke replied, "The teachings of the Sith have inflicted too much harm on the universe."

    He began to circle around Damask as he gripped his lightsaber with both hands, dipping it slightly forward.

    Damask drew his own weapon, igniting its yellow blade.

    "Let us hope this is a duel worthy of the ages," Plagueis said.

    Luke knew from experience that old and frail opponents could be far more powerful than they appeared, and Plagueis did not disappoint.

    His first strike nearly vivisected Luke in half, forcing him to retreat with his saber held diagonally in front of his chest.

    Kira felt her strength returning as the burns finally began to heal.

    She slowly rose to her feet, picking her lightsaber up from the sand as Luke worked hard to keep Plagueis at bay, drawing him away from the city's borders

    Kira was about to charge at Plagueis to join the fight, but halted her feet in the sand as she sensed another presence drawing closer, one that filled her with hatred.

    Ultor was here, and it was time for her to finish the job.

    She darted back into the main avenue of Anchorhead and

    "Your masters have taught you well, Skywalker," Plagueis growled, "but the dark side gives me power that you will never understand."

    With that, the Muun Force-leapt away from Luke and tossed his lightsaber aside with disinterest, raising both his bony hands as if to surrender.

    As Luke paced around with his lightsaber slanted in anticipation of Plagueis's next move, the Sith Lord began to call out to the midichlorians inside Luke, many thousand snapping to life.

    Luke felt his breathing starting to slow as Plagueis began to kill him, but he immediately deactivated his own lightsaber and tossed it aside.

    Plagueis frowned in confusion as Luke sat down in the sand and began to meditate.

    He continued to control the Grand Master's midichlorians as Luke began to form an invisible bubble, blocking his enemy from penetrating his bodily functions.

    His breathing and heart rate resumed their normal pace as Damask frustratedly continued to attempt to shut him down.

    "What?" Damask snarled, "How are you resisting?"

    Luke opened his eyes and stood back up.

    "I don't need to know any dark secrets," he replied, "The light side can resist anything with enough power."

    Plagueis raised his hands again and this time sent two separate streaks of lightning from each of his pale, clammy palms.

    The magnitude and speed of the bolts were enough to instantly kill a target, but Luke raised his remaining flesh hand to absorb both jets.

    The lightning streaks connected into one as they reached Luke's hand and disappeared into his palm.

    Plagueis fired another web of lightning, the most intense possible, determined to destroy his Jedi target.

    Luke once again held out his hand as if telling the Muun to stop, and he absorbed the blue and violet lightning without a hitch.

    Kira lurked through the vacated streets of Anchorhead with her lightsaber at the ready, illuminating the otherwise dim adobe alleyways.

    "I know you're here somewhere," she said, "Come and meet your destiny."

    An invisible voice that had remained in Kira's nightmares for seven years replied, "With pleasure."

    Kira looked up and scanned the buildings and structures to find the direction from which the voice had come. She saw nothing, and backed away into the middle of the avenue, fear starting to creep in.

    "Where are you, Skyler?" Kira asked, "Come on out and fight."

    Suddenly, Kira's throat began to close, and her knees lifted into the air.

    She struggled and kicked, but the lock was tightening around her neck, and she was losing air.

    Her lightsaber dropped to the ground as Ultor appeared, his own red blade of hell adding a new hue to the night.

    "You have been a nuisance to me for too long," Ultor said, glaring at her with his yellow eyes and snakelike pupils, "It's time for you to die."

    As her vision began to blur, Kira saw a deep cut on Ultor's leg and hip. He was weaker than before, she had a good chance.

    With her remaining strength, Kira reached for her lightsaber in the sand. At the same time, she concentrated her Force push on Ultor's bad leg, causing him to howl as he tripped into the sand.

    Kira gasped for breath as she fell onto her hands and knees, gripping tightly to her lightsaber as she rose to her feet.

    Ultor regained his balance quickly, immediately lunging after Kira, who raced towards him at the same time as he did.

    She struck hard to mow him down, and Ultor matched the position of her blade with his own.

    Red and blue formed an X, with each young duelist pushing against the other's lightsaber. Kira's robotic hand dug into her blade and left the smallest of dents as she glared into Ultor's eyes, made brighter by the glow of their plasma rods.

    Kira tried to lower her lightsaber to cut deeper into Ultor's wound, but she had to lean far back as he jabbed his own saber into her face, swaying to narrowly avoid a terminal strike.

    Losing his patience, Plagueis once again attempted to hijack Luke's midichlorians.

    And once again, Luke entered a meditative bubble that blocked any attempt to penetrate it.

    Plagueis reached for his askew lightsaber and rushed. Luke used the Force to grab his own and immediately met Plagueis's blade. Green clashed against yellow with rapid motions as they made their way into the city.

    Ultor took advantage of Kira's loss of balance and kicked under her knee with his good leg.

    Kira cried out as his boot struck her and knocked her to the sand on her side.

    Kira tried to ignore the pain as Ultor gripped his saber with both hands and swung it down like an executioner. She looked at his leg wound and used the Force to peel at his skin, tearing it open ever so slightly.

    Ultor stumbled and blindly swung with a yell of rage, causing the sparks from his blade fly less than an inch from Kira. She closed her eyes and looked away before reaching for Ultor again. She concentrated on the high midichlorian count inside him, willing the microscopic life forms to sleep.

    Ultor staggered again, panting for breath. Already wounded badly, he dropped to his knees as his bodily functions began to fail him.

    Kira stood up from her lying position and approached her helpless opponent with her lightsaber ready to strike him down.

    Kira paused, eager to savor the ultimate victory. It was not enough to cut him down. No, he needed to suffer.

    "This is for Ben and Winter," Kira said, raising her lightsaber to slice Ultor's head off.

    At that moment, Ultor screamed with animal fury and raised his gloved hands.

    An unexpected web of dark energy came from his fingers and caught Kira square in the chest. It was weaker than Plagueis's lightning, but still enough to send a ripple of agony though her and knock her onto her back.

    Ultor laughed as he struggled to rise onto his feet, leaning on the adobe cantina entrance for support.Recovering his lightsaber, Ultor asked, "Did you really think I would be as easy as those test subjects?"

    Still weakened from the shock, Kira considered herself lucky that Ultor was still wounded, or he would have made up the distance to kill her in no time. She weakly rolled against the wall and used to to climb to her feet as Ultor staggered through the sand, his the hate in his expression multiplied by the red glow of his blade within the shadows of night.

    As the two masters reached the portion of Anchorhead that had been damaged by the battle, Luke managed to break away from the elderly Damask's onslaught long enough to jump onto a taller adobe structure, which happened to be an abandoned inn.

    Plagueis's first move was not to pursue Luke onto the rooftop, but to use the Force to pluck the nearby satellite dish from its socket.

    Luke naturally expected Plagueis to hurl the electrical device at him, and was not disappointed as it flew in his direction.

    Luke's green blade sliced the dish in two, causing it to explode in a burst of electricity.

    Luke pointed his blade down towards Plagueis, redirecting the electrical energy in his direction.

    Plagueis caught the lightning on his yellow lightsaber, then reached with both of his long, skinny arms to collect several dozen pieces of wrecked structures.

    The rubble rose from the ashy sand where it had fallen, high into the night sky.

    Luke waited as Plagueis threw all of the chunks at a time in his direction, dousing them with Force lightning as they surrounded Luke.

    Luke created an air wave with the Force in response, causing the airborne pieces of adobe to fly in every direction away from himself and his opponent.

    Plagueis finally launched himself after Luke onto the inn rooftop, lightning emerging from all of his fingertips.

    Luke saw no advantage in standing his ground. He turned and jumped with everything he could summon from the Force.

    His body carried him over the distance between the rooftops onto the next one, which housed a dealership with tons of ship and speeder parts still sitting untouched.

    Plagueis landed right behind Luke on the roof of the dealership, immediately blasting him with a lethal dose of Sith lightning.

    Luke reflexively blocked the crackling energy with both his flesh hand and his lightsaber, gripped by his gloved robotic fingers.

    Plagueis was tiring along with Luke, but his fury only grew. The Sith Lord intensified his attack, spreading out the crackling bolts in a wide circle as he targeted several locations on Luke's body.

    The lightning immediately blasted a gaping round hole in the roof of the abandoned dealership, and Luke disappeared in a flash of smoke and crackling energy.

    A surprised Jawa looked up and whistled as the Jedi Grand Master tumbled through the roof and into a pile of broken down droids and ship parts.

    "Utinni!" the Jawa uttered, running for cover as Luke landed on his back in the pile.

    Plagueis peered through the hole in the roof and glowered down at Luke.

    He raised his hands and once more fired a dose of lightning, this time, aiming for the metal equipment surrounding Luke.

    Luke immediately hopped up and landed on the floor, telekinetically grabbing whatever wired parts he could as they were doused with electricity.

    Luke hurled the parts back at Plagueis as he tried to use them to fry the Grand Master.

    Plagueis was hit by a jolt of lightning and snarled as he fell into the shop and into the parts. He hurled the pieces of a defunct protocol droid at Luke as he zapped it with furious lightning.

    Luke returned the blow with a flying power converter that nearly missed Damask's cylinder face.

    Taking advantage of the opportunity, Luke hurried out of the shop into the street. Plagueis thundered after him as Luke raced towards the dueling Ultor and Kira.

    The two of them were nearly ready to finish the other off.

    Panting, Ultor went in for the kill, while Kira aimed again at his bad leg. A green blade appeared between Ultor's and Kira's as Luke joined the fray, pushing Ultor back.

    Luke had the upper hand by far over the younger duelist, despite his own weary state. Luke struck hard against Ultor's lightsaber without tapping into any internal aggression, forcing the Dark Master to retreat.

    Luke cut into Ultor's black-clad sleeve, causing him to cry out again and drop his blade.

    Ultor could not fight anymore, with one bad arm and one bad leg. Bleeding, he dropped his lightsaber and seethed with rage and hatred.

    "You failed," he gasped, "You'll have to kill me before you convert me."

    Before Luke could reply, he sensed something terrible happening behind him.

    Kira was on her knees, gasping desperately for air. Her heart rate and blood flow were slowing as Plagueis soothed her midichlorians to sleep.

    The Muun Sith looked very calm and calculating, with his eyes closed as he concentrated on taking the life force out of Kira.

    Luke moved to Force-push Plagueis away from Kira, but the Muun briefly broke his concentration and sent a light stream of lightning that forced Luke to catch it on his lightsaber.

    Ultor raised his injured arm and unleashed his hatred towards his former father figure, letting out another jet of lightning.

    As Luke concentrated on keeping Kira alive, he was not prepared for the blast. Ultor caught him in the back, causing Luke to cry out as the lightning tore through him.

    Kira weakly gazed towards Luke, then at Plagueis, who continued to kill her with his powers.

    Resist, the voice of Anakin urged, you must resist!

    "I can't..." Kira gasped, barely able to speak. Her face was pale white, and she was unable to move any of her limbs.

    Let go of your hate it's the only way to stop what's happening, Anakin replied from thin air.

    Luke finally reached Plagueis, attempting to dismember him to put him out of commission.

    Plagueis finally was forced to respond, launching another torrent at Luke, who was still aching from the pain of Ultor's lightning.

    Ultor was still too injured to stand and fight, but he continued to project his hatred into his bursts of Force energy. The lighting crackled into Luke's spine and bones as he advanced determinedly towards Damask.

    Finally, Plagueis brought up his own lightsaber to clash against Luke. Ultor was not letting up, firing burst after burst into Luke, who had now gone from wincing to crying out in pain, but he still continued to duel Plagueis.

    Finally, Luke dropped to his knees, unable to stand from the lightning tearing into him.

    He was in too much pain to reflect on how badly he'd failed Kira, failed Han and Leia, failed Ben and Skyler both, failed Obi-Wan and Yoda who had trusted him with the legacy of the Jedi.

    Ultor smiled as he finally slinked against the wall onto his feet, slightly increasing the bursts of lightning.

    Plagueis quickly deactivated and sheathed his lightsaber, hurling additional the torrents of energy into Luke.

    Luke was now beyond feeling pain. He laid against the sand as both of the Sith Lords blasted him to death.

    He could see the Netherworld now, beginning with the Stream of Life where the midichlorians were born, departing from the souls of the beings in the Netherworld.

    Stay strong Luke, his father Anakin was saying, Just a little longer.

    Use your will, Luke, Obi-Wan chimed in, The teachings of the Jedi depend on you.

    Stay alive, you must, Yoda said, for the girl.

    Luke began to regain a hold of himself, despite the massive bolts of lightning burning his skin.

    Ultor and Plagueis paused their stream of lightning, with Ultor savoring the sight of his old Master in pain and near death, and Plagueis turning his attention back to Kira, who also lay still in the sand.

    "I'll finish off Skywalker," Ultor declared, "You can have the girl."

    The lightning was still visible as it rippled across Luke's robes and his limbs.

    Plagueis turned his attention back to Kira, who was barely stirring.

    Use the light to block him out, Anakin said to Kira, whose vision cleared enough to see Plagueis' concentration returning to her. She tried to will his manipulations out of her body, but could muster nothing but hatred.

    "I'm dying," she gasped, "Anakin, help, I'm dying."

    Luke began to weakly crawl onto his feet, kneeling in the sand.

    Ultor resumed his lightning attack, ripping into Luke as he stumbled and fell once again.

    Luke could see the abyss beyond, he could now feel presences that were not able to travel to the physical realm.

    He heard another voice call his name, a voice he had not heard in over fifty years, but a voice that he remembered speaking his own name.

    Luke, the voice of his mother Padme said., Hold on, Luke.

    He could hear Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru along with his mother,urging him to resist death, at least until the future of the Jedi was secured.

    Luke got onto one knee, then planted his other foot on the ground, all while his bones crumbled under the weight of Ultor's lightning.

    He trudged through the sand to the spot where Kira was lying near death.

    Still under the onslaught of Ultor's Sith energy, Luke knelt beside his dying niece and placed his good hand on her forehead, willing her to revive.

    Plagueis stopped at the sight of Luke using his powers for good, to protect someone he loved, in spite of his massive injuries.

    Plagueis then looked at Ultor's lightning and saw a different scene, a scene from his own past.

    Ultor's face was replaced by another one, by one of a man who slightly resembled him. Damask saw a young Sheev Palpatine standing over his bedside, waking him with a lethal dose of lightning. He remembered his own feeling of betrayal as the young Darth Sidious ignited his lightsaber to strike, thinking he was about to kill his master.

    Then, in the present, something shifted inside Damask.

    He halted his manipulation of Kira's midichlorians and allowed Luke to heal her bodily functions.

    Ultor did not notice this at first, continuing to blast Luke with his small jets of crackling energy.

    Luke could only power through the intense pain that only grew worse, using the power of healing to bring Kira back around.

    "Luke," Kira said as she took in the sight of her uncle, kneeling before her. Kira kicked her feet in the sand and found that she could move them.

    "It's okay, Kira," Luke whispered, "I won't let them hurt you any more."

    He then fell face-first onto the sand as Ultor advanced, finally overwhelmed by the brutality of the younger man.

    Kira climbed to her feet, feeling her strength gradually returning. She looked over to her abandoned lightsaber, once again summoning it back to her. Before she could begin to attack, something else struck Ultor in the chest and knocked him down.

    As Ultor growled in rage and began to return to his feet, Hego Damask stepped forward and said, "Kira, get out of here. I'll hold him off as long as I can."

    Kira briefly stared in confusion at the old, towering Muun, but as Ultor grabbed his own lightsaber and prepared to strike, she ducked and took her uncle's arm, grunting from the strain of hoisting him up.

    Ultor charged with a yell, but Damask once again pushed him back.

    Ultor cried out as he landed against the wall of the dealership with a crack of his wounded arm and leg. Once again, he could not stand up, left to roll in agony.

    Kira dragged the heavier Luke through the street, towards the landspeeder that awaited.

    Luke was barely conscious, the Sith lightning still tearing through his body and clothing. Nevertheless, he tried his best to keep himself up as he allowed Kira to guide him.

    Luke weakly climbed into the back of the landspeeder, aided by Kira. He curled up ont the seat like a small child about to take a nap.

    "We have to get you help," Kira said, beginning to panic as she realized the terrible condition that her uncle was in.

    "Shelter...top...of...Jundland...Wastes..." Luke gasped, "Go..."

    Kira hurried into the driver's seat and pulled the lever, blasting them both out of Anchorhead towards the canyon beyond.
     
  10. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    TATOOINE

    The first crack of dawn had reached the horizon of Tatooine. Two ships raced through the sky with severe urgency; one Sith Infiltrator and one Corellian smuggling freighter turned Republic command ship.

    Han and Leia were silent and pale as they steered the ship towards the Jundland Wastes, flying overhead towards the single hut beyond it.

    As the twin suns continued to rise, Talon quickly docked her ship just outside the wrecked Anchorhead and hurried out of it.

    Hego Damask's eyes had gone from their red and yellow glow to their natural sunken black.

    He activated his yellow blade as he stepped gracefully towards the exhausted, wounded Ultor.

    "Traitor," Ultor hissed, bearing the pain of his serious injuries, "You went soft in the end, just like last time."

    "We were both planning to betray the other anyway," Damask replied, "Betrayal is the first principle of the Sith, and that is why they are always doomed to fail."

    Ultor helplessly grabbed for his still-ignited lightsaber, desperately trying to lift it to defend himself.

    "This is for the crimes of your forefathers as well as your own," Damask said coldly, preparing to execute the Dark Master.

    "Master!" shouted a terrified female voice. Talon came rushing through the alleyway with her twin sabers ignited, determined to save her beloved master from the fate about to befall him.

    Talon sprang into action, twirling both lightsabers in a series of blurs as she lunged at Damask.

    Damask was quick, pivoting to slice his yellow blade through Talon's stomach.

    The young Twi'lek gasped in horror as Damask's blade cut through her chest, and she switched off both of her red bladed weapons, resigned to her fate.

    Ultor's mouth widened with shock as he watched Damask mortally wound his favorite Lieutenant.

    Damask carelessly turned back to Ultor as Talon crumpled onto the sand.

    A sudden wave of strength overcame the young Sith.

    With a roar, Ultor leapt to his feet and attacked, swinging his blade through both of Damask's bony wrists.

    Damask cried out in his hoarse voice as Ultor dismembered his arms.

    With a second stroke, Ultor's red blade cut into the Muun's chin, slicing off the top half of his long head.

    Damask's body collapsed next to Talon, unmoving.

    Finally, Ultor fell forward into the sand, gasping for air.

    He switched off his lightsaber as the blood continued to trickle into the sand.

    He crawled slowly to the dying Talon, whispering, "No, no."

    "I'm sorry, Master..." Talon breathed, trying to touch his pale face. Her hand fell beside her as her eyes closed for the last time.

    Thoroughly exhausted and losing his will to continue, Ultor collapsed in the sand and allowed himself to lay still, with the night sky beginning to turn yellow and pink with the sunrise.

    Kira was breathing heavily as she pulled the landspeeder in front of the former residence of old Ben Kenobi.

    She scrambled out of the driver's seat and hurried to help her uncle up. Luke was feebly stirring, his organs beyond repair from the damage.

    Luke blinked as Kira pulled him up with all of her strength, her short and lithe body guiding his heavier one.

    The Falcon appeared overhead alongside the red sun as the sun and its twin rose and changed color

    Han touched the ship down on the rocky surface as Kira and Luke staggered arm over neck into the old dwelling, which contained only a small stove and sink, a chest with unknown collectibles inside, and a single cot with blankets.

    "Luke, my parents are here," Kira panted, growing more fearful by the second as his condition deteriorated, "They'll help you."

    "No," Luke coughed, shaking his head as he laid down on the cot, "But I'm glad you're here. All of you."

    A loud Wookiee cry rang outside the old hut as the Falcon's ramp slammed down with a hiss of exhaust onto the cliffside.

    "Luke!" Han shouted.

    "Kira," she heard her mother say.

    Artoo Deetoo whistled frantically as the entire company entered the hut, gathering around.

    Han and Leia were the first to reach Luke's bedside, both of them crouching around their best friend and covering the view with their backs.

    "Oh, my, Master Luke," Threepio fretted mournfully as he brought up the rear.

    "I'm sorry," Kira whispered, "I tried."

    Leia silently reached from Luke's cot to her daughter and squeezed her hand.

    Luke feebly turned his head to his niece and rasped, "Kira...the Jedi legacy...is yours. You...and the young ones...are the future."

    "Don't say that, kid, you're going to make it," Han pleaded, his voice wavering in a way that did not match its natural cockiness.

    Leia was still silent, knowing better. She allowed the tears to flow down her cheeks, but otherwise accepted what was necessary. She knew that her brother would pass on into the living Force, having lived a triumphant, heroic life.

    "This is where it all began," Luke said, coughing slightly, "The twin suns are rising, and a new day is upon us."

    Kira watched through her own tears as her parents took her uncle by his arms and gently guided him back onto his feet. Chewbacca and the droids quickly made way as Han and Leia half-carried Luke out of Old Ben Kenobi's hut, onto the ledge that overlooked the rising suns.

    Han and Leia held tightly to Luke's feeble arms as they seated him down on a nearly round boulder, neither of them daring to cease touching him, as if his existence depended on it.

    Luke smiled as he looked between his two best friends. Chewbacca let out a howl and rushed to join them, along with Threepio and Artoo Deetoo, who let out a sad beep.

    Luke sighed as he touched the dome of Artoo's head, stroking it with affection as he watched the binary sunrise.

    He remembered an evening thirty-four years earlier, when he had watched these same suns descending beyond the horizon. He had wondered at the age of nineteen whether he would ever be able to escape his mundane life on Tatooine.

    Luke certainly had escaped it, he reflected, and had realized his destiny. He hoped he had done proud to those who had come before, but he knew for certain that he had done himself proud.

    Han, Leia and the others were silent as they stood by Grand Master Luke Skywalker as his breathing became softer.

    The sky was becoming brighter and bluer as the twin suns finally reached the clouds.

    A minute later, a brown cloak and a sheathed lightsaber were all that remained on the round boulder.

    As daybreak turned into mid-morning over the vast, scorching desert, Republic Interceptors and gunships began appearing in the sky and preparing to dock.

    Inside his personal shuttle, Cal Omas peered into the holographic scanners that the small projector displayed.

    He listened as a voice in the intercom said, "Our intelligence reports that the Jedi are hiding inside an old moisture farm deep within the Great Chott flat. There are a number of civilians hiding out among them."

    "No doubt our occupation of their cities will draw out the Jedi," Omas replied, "This invasion will achieve two goals at once."

    Massive dropships the size of medium sized city buildings were descending from the clouds along with the trooper carriers and fighters, each one carrying a wheeled AT-GT tank.

    As the tanks were set onto the sand, the dropships lifted off again to return to the Dreadnoughts from which they delivered the transports.

    Units of twenty Brigadiers stood attentively and armed inside the AT-GTs, with two in each cockpit.

    The thirty-odd Anchorhead refugees were gathered in the secret hangar underneath the Lars homestead.

    Sam was saying to them, "It will take a lot of fighting, but the armed population can keep out the Coalition invasion. Do you have means of contacting others who have escaped?"

    A trader named Krit Sans replied, "Our sandrails allowed us to connect with Mos Espa before the Coalition cut it off. All transmission channels have been compromised though."

    "Fortunately, my Jedi friends can help you get across the desert to the nearby cities," Sam replied, "The more people we arm, the more firepower we'll have against the invading forces."

    Tahiri exited the hangar to find her former Master, Tionne, overlooking the horizon with her head hung.

    "What's wrong, Master?" Tahiri asked with a light note of concern.

    "The Jedi Order has suffered a great loss," Tionne replied, "Master Skywalker has passed on into the Force."

    Tahiri was not entirely surprised, having herself sensed a cosmic shift, but bowed her head in sorrow nonetheless.

    "The Jedi would be nowhere without him," Tahiri said, feeling the loss all at once, "He found all of us and trained us to use our abilities...abilities that we didn't at first understand...for the good of the galaxy."

    The other surviving Masters were now emerging from the homestead, exchanging looks of grief with Tionne.

    "The Jedi have lost a mighty and heroic leader," Saba Sebatyne stated.

    "Over there!" a young Padawan named Aitek Sucal exclaimed, pointing as the Millennium Falcon appeared in the sky above the ocean of sand, preparing to land in the underground hangar.

    Tahiri quickly ran towards the tunnel leading into the secret docking bay, mentally preparing to deal with Kira's grief and certainly raging emotions. She must have had to deal with the threat that had killed Luke, and Tahiri was certain that Darth Ultor was involved.

    Sam had arrived at the ramp of the Falcon before Tahiri did, and stood back respectfully as it slid downwards.

    Not surprisingly, every organic being on the Falcon had been crying during the journey from the Jundland Wastes to the Lars Homestead.

    Sam gave a silent, solemn military salute and the puffy-eyed Han returned it without a word.

    Tionne approached the Falcon and embraced Han and Leia.

    "General Solo, Master Solo, you two must be in grave pain. I felt what happened immediately."

    "Luke would be proud to give his life in service to the Force," Leia replied, "In fact, I know he is. Right now, we have a mission to complete, a mission that began long ago."

    "We saw hundreds of Republic craft landing in the desert," Han added, "We think that Omas is planning a full scale invasion."

    Tahiri stopped listening as she saw the small figure lurking behind Chewbacca and the droids. As they climbed down the ramp of the Falcon, Tahiri walked up the ramp and gently approached Kira in the round corridor.

    "You must be hurting a lot," Tahiri said gently, touching Kira's arm, "I know that he wasn't angry with you. He was happy that you came back."

    "My powers were useless when it mattered ," Kira choked, her voice wavering intensely, "I had the power and I couldn't save him like I saved Praxium. I couldn't save him and I couldn't kill Skyler."

    "Luke didn't want to be saved, he wanted to keep you safe," Tahiri replied, patting Kira on the shoulder, "and he wouldn't want you to kill Ultor out of revenge either."

    The mention of Skyler's adopted Sith name brought Kira's icy blood to a boil.

    "I have to finish the job," Kira said, trembling in her boots, "As long as he's alive, he's going to come for everyone I else I care about."

    "Kira, listen!" Tahiri snapped, shaking her by the arms, "You can't keep worrying about him and what he's doing! We do care about you and we're here. I know Ultor's evil- he's hurt all of us. But you can't keep thinking about the people you hate."

    Kira closed her eyes and cringed, humbled by Tahiri's wisdom.

    Strangely, the tears did not come this time.

    Kira merely reflected on her own frame of mind and the intense feelings consuming her; grief for her brother, and now her uncle, and many others who had also died, her love for her parents and friends who were still here, and her hatred for Ultor and the Coalition.

    If she could just deal with the root cause of her hate, Kira realized, she could love without worrying about losing the people close to her.

    Sam slowly climbed up the ramp of the Falcon into the round corridor.

    "The battle isn't over yet," he informed them, "The Coalition has called for backup from all the crime syndicates, and Vizier Omas has landed and is going to invade the planet."

    "What about the Sith army?" Kira asked, "Damask and Ultor had an army of Sith that they brought back from the dead."

    "What?" Tahiri asked, her mouth opening in shock and confusion.

    Sam, the non-Force sensitive, was not fazed by Kira's revelation.

    "He must have done what you did to bring back my father, Damask is the one you went to learn from, right?"

    "He was the Sith Lord Darth Plagueis," Kira replied with a nod, "Damask helped me and Luke get away from Ultor, but he must have taught Ultor his secrets first- or told him how to learn them."

    "If the Sith are gone for now, then we'll have to wait to deal with them," Sam said, "The Coalition and the Republic are both ready to wage war with the people of Tatooine."

    "Luke wouldn't want you to keep thinking about Ultor," Tahiri added.

    Kira bowed her head, silent for a long minute. She allowed her conflicting feelings to stew, and decided that her feelings of love and companionship were strong enough to drown out the rest.

    "I know," Kira said sullenly, "But he can't just be allowed to walk free. None of them should."

    "Listen," Sam said, urgently taking Kira's arm, "We just got you back after two years after you ran away. I know that what he did hurt you, but you can't let him take over your mind. We're your friends and we don't want you to get into any more trouble."

    With a slighter lighter note, Sam added, "You've saved us both now, and we want to return the favor."

    On the hangar floor, Artoo Deetoo was projecting a holographic map of Mos Espa, displaying the New Republic set tanks rolling across the sand.

    "They look like they're headed for Mos Espa," Jedi Knight Kors Werloc commented.

    "The Coalition presence is sure to take the population hostage," Tionne replied gravely.

    "That won't stop Omas," Sam commented, "He won't care about the lives lost in the process."

    "We'll be fighting a war on two fronts," Master Kahn said, "We won't have support from the Republic even against the increased Coalition firepower."

    "Will the strength of the Jedi be enough?" Tahiri asked. She looked knowingly at Kira with deep worry in her eyes. Like her closest friend, she was also thinking about the army of Sith that was still out there.

    "What else can we rely on?" Tionne replied, "We cannot count on any allies at this time."

    "What about us?" asked a young farmer named Soran Hiflyer, "We're ready to rise up in arms against any who threaten us."

    "We don't want any more civilian casualties than we can help," Kahn replied.

    "This is our planet, and we aren't giving up without a fight," replied a Rodian named Teebus.

    "With proper strategy and strong will, I think any small army can take on the big superpowers," Han Solo chimed in.

    "We're going to have to move fast before they overtake the rest of the cities," Saba Sebatyne said, "Some of us will have to stay to protect the youngest of our brood."

    "Us most experienced Masters should remain, in case any enemy manages to find our secret hideout," Kahn replied, "Leia can lead the Jedi front."

    Leia bowed her head, experiencing a fresh wave of sadness at the loss of her brother.

    "Sam, Chewie I can help the locals enter the city while the Jedi work their magic," Han said, "That way we can free the hostages and get more people to fight."

    "We're honored to have your support, General," Krit Sans saluted.

    On the opposite side of the planet, dozens of Pyke, Black Sun, and Hutt Cartel craft were pouring into Mos Espa, Mos Eisley, and many other isolated settlements.

    Jabba the Hutt's palace had fallen into decay over the years, but still stood tall as a landmark amidst the Dune Sea.

    Accompanied by a host of Gammoreans, IG assassin droids, and bounty hunters including Durge, Rotta the Hutt slithered through the sandy hallway towards his father's abandoned throne room.

    "The Outer Rim belongs to the Hutts as it was always meant to," Rotta crowed, addressing the projected holographic images of his bretheren.

    "What about the Black Sun and Pykes?" asked the bespectacled Gorga, "What will we do with them?"

    "For now, their presence is necessary here," Rotta replied, "The Jedi and Republic forces must be dealt with."

    The holograms of Black Sun Vigos Yerrin Serri and Kraken and the muscular, armored Pyke leader Jezzick Broon appeared from the projector.

    "We have seized all trading ports and banks," Broon reported.

    "Our forces have taken control of the irrigation and most of the main moisture plants," Serri added, "The people will have to answer to us."

    As the Jedi and Tatooine rebels scrambled to prepare their aircraft,weapons, and ranks for the guerrilla war to come, Kira stepped onto the ground level, climbing up the steps that led from the Lars Homestead.

    She was silent as she let her raging emotions stew within her. She couldn't let her friends bear the brunt of her feelings, not again.

    But she could not get her heart to do what her brain was telling the rest of her to do. Kira's anger, grief and bloodlust were as fresh as ever.

    Her mind flashed back to Chandrilia and Slave I, where she had used General Praxium's midichlorians to kill him, and then bring him back. Praxium had had a low count, so he had been an easy task. Ultor was far more difficult to control with these powers, and conversely, she would have been unable to save her Uncle Luke due to his higher concentration.

    But Kira knew that the secret was out there. Damask had discovered it, and he had been able to revive an entire army of powerful Sith. Kira would have that power one day, and then-

    No- Kira told herself. She could not be having those thoughts. Not when it counted the most, and not when her friends and family needed her to stay strong.

    A familiar presence appeared out of thin air, along with the glowing blue apparition attached to it.

    "You're still tempted by the powers of darkness," Anakin observed, "The secrets that Plagueis had."

    Kira nodded and turned to her grandfather. "I'm sorry, Anakin, I'm sorry I couldn't help him. I'm sorry that I still feel the midichlorians' power affecting me."

    "Luke will always be here to watch over you, as am I," Anakin replied,


    "What must I do?" Kira gasped, feeling desperate and hopeless, "What do I have to do to get rid of my feelings? I don't want to harm my family or friends, and I don't want to let anything else hurt them."



    "The midichorians allow us to live in the physical realm, but they can also be a source of great corruption," Anakin replied, "Plagueis's mind has long been affected by manipulating them, and you might find yourself straying down the same path."


    "I don't want to let them take over me," Kira replied, "I don't want him to take over, but I can't let go. I want to kill him, to make him suffer even more for everything he's done."


    "Once Skyler has discovered the secrets of Darth Plagueis, he could become a far greater threat," Anakin replied, "The time will inevitably come when you have to face him again. But when you do, you must be prepared to ward off the darkest of temptations."

    "I don't know when I'll be ready," Kira replied, "I can't stay here, while I put my loved ones at risk. I'm putting them all in danger as long as I stay with them. They'll feel the wrath of my anger much worse than Tahiri already did if I don't get these thoughts and feelings out of my head!"


    Anakin was calm as he regarded his granddaughter's outburst.

    Finally, he said, "As a Jedi, you cannot give into fear or hate, but that does not mean that you can avoid them forever. You're never alone, Kira, even when nobody else is with you."



    "Where must I go?" Kira asked, "What must I do to get rid of the darkness inside me?"


    TATOOINE

    A lone figure, clad in black, staggered weakly up the slope of the Jundland Wastes. Sheer will had carried Ultor through the desert plains to the rocky cliffside, and up the steep hills that led back to his ship.

    Ultor did his best to ignore the trail of blood, or the screaming wounds in his arm and leg. He would have to tend to his injuries. He could not process a single thought except the will to carry himself to his Herald. From there, he would figure out everything else.

    The dark side continued to fuel Ultor as he climbed, and he felt it searing through his every vein and artery. He had felt mediocre as a Jedi Padawan, compared to Ben and the rest of his classmates despite his high potential.

    Now, he was supreme. Ultor had no competitors in the ways of the Force. He would find Plagueis's secrets, and then he would be akin to a god.

    Ultor kept these thoughts in the forefront of his mind as he reached the flat ledge where he had docked his transport.

    Gazing over the horizon, Ultor could see a series of Coalition fighters and vessels flying from the Coalition command ships above. He had no more use for the Coalition. Once he had the final secret, he would crush every dissident like a bug.

    With his toes against the ledge, Ultor finally took the time to reflect on a fact that he had been ignoring: Luke Skywalker was dead. Luke was dead, and Ultor had done most of the deed.

    Damask had gone soft in the end, and Ultor had delivered the fatal lightning that caused Luke to weaken to the point of death. Ultor reflected on this fact, his hateful resolve turning into somber contemplation.

    He remembered Luke's words during their duel on the cliff. After everything Ultor had done, his former father figure had tried to bring him back from the dark side. Just like Ben once had, but Luke had been able to penetrate Ultor's armor in a way that nobody else was.

    And Ultor had felt the jab, for a brief moment. He had seen the appeal of Luke's plea, almost tempted to reject the future that he saw for himself. He had seen an abyss of despair instead of a wave of glory.

    But no, Ultor knew better. The Jedi had held him back, and now he was at the top of the ladder he had begun to climb all those years ago. Next, he would knock the ladder down and destroy it.

    Before turning to climb aboard his ship, Skyler allowed a single tear to fall from his eyes, disappearing down the slope of the gorge.

    Within the wreckage of Anchorhead, two corpses laid near one another. Talon continued to bleed totally lifeless in the desert heat, but an incomprehensible process was taking place within the dismembered body of Hego Damask

    He had long ago trained his midichlorians for the event of his death, he had survived the onslaught of Sidious with this process.

    Inside his organs and veins, Plagueis's many thousand midichlorians reawakened, eagerly shouting commands at one another.

    Light after light shone throughout the vastly infinite crevices inside Plagueis that were invisible to the naked eye, resembling the crystal caves of Ilum.

    Plagueis's midichlorians soon began to glow over his entire body, including his severed head and hands, until all of him vanished into the morning light.

    WELLSPRING OF LIFE

    The Stream of Life, which flowed between the Netherworld and the physical realm, led directly into the Wellspring

    The glowing midichlorians that had departed the demolished street of Anchorhead appeared in the rapid river, which appeared out of nothing in the vacuum of space.

    The invisible Stream connected directly to a large orb on the surface of the Force Planet, which its inhabitants referred to as the Wellspring of Life.

    The midichlorians blended in with their brethren as they travelled into the giant shining orb, glowing the same hint of blue as they began to spread along the dull, rocky surface with a beige color.

    Among the geysers of energy and pure golden fluids, the glowing midichlorians began to reassemble, bringing with them the soul that had been banished to the darkest depths of the Netherworld.

    Finally, the body of Hego Damask began to appear in the golden, enchanted forest, with the cylinder head reattaching to the neck and the hands connecting to the wrists.

    Plagueis also began to change his physical shape, his frail, bony body began to grow muscles visible throughout his arms, legs and chest, until he had grown considerably in size.

    The black robes he was wearing began to tear, too thin to hold his muscular body.

    As soon as the awakened Plagueis rose to his feet, five thin, willowy figures began to float from the valley above towards the resurrected Sith Lords.

    Plagueis crossed his arms as he faced the arriving Force Priestesses, who began to surround him in a circular formation.

    "We never thought we'd see you again, Darth Plagueis," Serenity, the head Priestess, remarked.

    "This is twice I have survived death," the Muun replied, "Two of the same bloodline tried to put an end to me, and both failed. The midichlorians here answer to me. I can bend any of them to my will."

    "Because of you, they refuse to teach their most forbidden secrets to any other," the Priestess Anger replied, "You have abused your knowledge for evil, and continue to do so with your unethical pursuits."

    "I have more power under my control than any other being has dreamed of," Plaguies bellowed, "I will decide what is ethical!"

    "You came here once with noble intentions," Sadness said, "You wanted to help the helpless, save the unfortunate. You sought a solution beyond what the Jedi had to offer. That is why the midichlorians believed in you, and why we did. You let us down in the end."

    Plagueis hesitated as he considered the Priestess's words. Then, he glowered at the five of them and replied, "It matters not what I believed in the past. Now, the entire living Force bends to my will, and I intend to use my powers to their fullest."

    He extended a large, chunky hand towards the lead Priestess, closing his fist to telekinetically strangle her. A split second later, Serenity and the rest of the Priestesses vanished into thin air.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2022
  11. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    TATOOINE

    The lead Republic AT-GT began to slow down as the controller pilot noticed an odd sight in the near distance.

    "Supreme Commander, do you see that?" he asked.

    Omas peered with his macrobinoculars at a lone speeder parked in the middle of the desert, among a column of long-decayed fossils.

    A corpulent body was draped over the speeder, which Omas could just make out as Hoff Praxium.

    "It's General Praxium," Omas declared, "This must be where the Jedi left his body!"

    Praxium was alive, but exhausted and dehydrated. He sweated heavily as he panted for air, unable to operate the stolen speeder anymore.

    "What's that?" Colonel Kargill asked from her AT-GT.

    Two Banthas had appeared near Praxium's speeder, with the Tusken Raiders rushing towards it.

    "What are those savages doing?" asked Omas as the Tuskens picked up Praxium's body from his speeder.

    "Should we go after them?" asked Kargill, watching the Tuskens throw Praxium to the sand and beat him with their deadly staffs.

    Praxium was in fact screaming in pain as the Tusken weapons struck him in the stomach, but the Republic invading party was too far away to hear.

    "It isn't worth the trouble," Omas decided, "He's already dead. If the savages pose a threat to our occupancy, then we will deal with them as well."

    As the Republic tanks proceeded through the desert, the Tuskens grabbed Praxium by the arms and pulled him to his feet, throwing him onto one of the Banthas.

    "Wait!" one of the tank pilots shouted from the cockpit, "Did you hear him screaming? Our scanners picked it up."

    "Halt!" Omas shouted into the radio, watching as he made out an agonized expression on Praxium's purple face.

    "Should we make a rescue?" Colonel Kargill asked.

    Meanwhile, the Tuskens had tied Praxium with rope over the bulky Bantha.

    "We'll take him back to camp," Porr Sharun declared, "He might be a valuable hostage."

    "Do you think the Republic will come for him?" asked Frey Veila.

    "If they don't, we can make an example of him," Sharun replied, "Outsiders have dared to tread on our lands for far too long. They must understand that we won't sit down and take it."

    Inside the lead AT-GT, Omas made his decision.

    "Colonel Kargill, you will take Batallion 301 to extraxt General Praxium. The rest of our craft will follow me as we proceed."

    "You can count on us, Vizier," Kargill said from her AT-GT.

    The Banthas and their riders were about four hundred yards away from the invading convoy, growing smaller.

    "Follow the Tuskens to their camp," Omas ordered, "There, you will be able to show the entire tribe of them the force that the Republic is capable of."

    HYPERSPACE

    Deep in the vacuum of space, a lone Had Abaddonian Dreadnought tore through the cosmos, with no particular destination.

    Inside, the Sith Lords had begun to overcome the spell that Darth Plagueis had cast over them, returning to their senses.

    "We have been tricked into serving the will of one ruler," Darth Millennial declared, "Darth Plagueis put us under a spell!"

    "He has been manipulating our life forces," Tenebrous added, "He was using us as an army to serve his own purposes. He had a young co-conspirator, Darth Ultor. The blood of Sidious himself."

    "We cannot let either Plagueis or Ultor tell us what to do," Lady Zannah said fiercely, "They have no claim over us."

    "It is because of them that we are all a shadow of our former selves," Darth Dredrun, a male Lannik complained, "None of us are at full strength yet. That is why Lord Malten lost to Ultor's apprentice."

    "How dare you!" the Twi'lek Malten snarled.

    "Enough!" hissed Darth Ness, an older female human, "We still have a great deal to figure out. Who will lead the Sith with no designated ruler? We must have some form of order if we are to take on the Jedi."

    The gathered Sith Lords looked between one another, piercing their fellow warriors with their gaping red and yellow eyes and their infinite black pupils.

    Almost comically, the Dark Lords began to draw their lightsabers in rapid succession, activating their multi-colored blades with loud hisses and buzzes.

    The Sith scanned the hangar as they prepared to attack one another, eager to battle for supremacy as the Sith had always done.

    "Halt!" Darth Bane shouted, raising his hand to quell the chaos.

    "What do you have to say, my old Master?" Zannah asked, dipping her lightsaber at Bane.

    "If we turn on each other now, we will as good as lose to the Jedi. We have the numbers to challenge them that we did not have before."

    "But who will command us?" Tenebrous asked, "Do you presume the position as our leader?"

    "I was the founder of our line of Dark Lords," Bane replied, "It was my teachings that each of you passed to your apprentice. Everything that this Sith have achieved over the last millennium is owed to me."

    "You were the one who started the Rule of Two," Zannah snarled, dipping her lightsaber towards her Master, "We could have crushed them long ago if we only had the numbers. You doomed us with your poor judgement."

    "You were a lost little girl before I found you," Bane snapped back, "You will obey your Master."

    Bane drew a purple-bladed lightsaber to attack, but four Sith were upon him at once, easily overpowering and dismembering the former Dark Lord.

    Suddenly, the group of Sith turned to address one of their own, a tattooed Zabrak who had begun to walk towards a nearby Syck fighter.

    "Where are you going, Sith?" asked Darth Malten.

    "I'm not a Sith," Savage said sadly, "I never was meant to be one. The Sith took my family from me, and I don't want any part of this."

    "You will fight for us if you know what's good for you!" Tenebrous declared.

    At the same time, Tenebrous and Millennial unleashed torrents of lightning at Savage, causing him to shriek in his low, rumbling voice as the double lightning struck his bulky body.

    "We won't have any deserters among us," Millennial hissed.

    The towering Savage lost consciousness with the weight of the Sith lightning tearing into him, his heart and lungs ceasing function.

    "Now what do we do?" Zannah demanded, "How are we to determine our hierarchal structure?"

    Suddenly, an electrical current began to run through the power lines inside the Dreadnought.

    Dramatically, the power systems began to shut down, and the hangar went dark.

    The Sith Lords who had switched off their lightsaber blades activated them once again, forming a circle of glowing crystal rods in the darkness.

    Within the Wellspring of Life, Darth Plagueis was silently summoning the midichlorians to do his bidding.

    He ordered them to transmit his image across thousands of lightyears, projecting himself before the revived Sith Lords.

    "Dark Lords of the past, each of you owes your existence in the physical realm to my sorcery. Without me, you would be condemned to suffer in the Netherworld for all eternity. You will obey my will."

    Darth Tenebrous was the first to step forward to confront his former apprentice.

    "I will not bow down to you, Plagueis, not when it was I who showed you the secrets of the dark side."

    From the Wellspring of Life, Plagueis conjured an alchemical spell, summoning it from the depths of the microbiotic world of the midichlorians.

    Tenebrous's large, black eyes began to glow, as did the eyes of every other Sith Lord who remained standing.

    "Must...resist!" grunted Darth Zannah as she tried to fend off the influence Plagueis was gaining over her mind.

    "The Sith will make their ultimate stand against the Jedi under my command," Plagueis rasped, "Only through me can we achieve the victory that the Sith were always destined."

    TATOOINE

    The surviving Hutt Dor'bullas, Black Sun skyhooks, and Pyke Sarisas regrouped on the far side of Tatooine's orbit, avoiding the Republic fleet sending reinforcements to the planet surface.

    Vigo Yerrin Serri spoke via hologram with Rotta the Hutt and Pyke leader Grimer Krim aboard his skyhook, the Falleen Jewel.

    "Do we dare challenge the Republic fleet again?" Krim asked, "They've left us badly crippled. We're cut off from our supply on planet. They'll be sure to find us soon."

    "The Republic forces will soon be occupied by the Jedi and the resisting armies already on Tatooine's surface," Serri replied, "Once they have taken care f one another, we will finish off what is left. In the meantime, let us continue sneaking whatever ships we can onto the planet. They cannot cover every square meter of Tatooine."

    "Most of the cities are already under our control," Rotta said, speaking entirely in Huttese, "We have the home turf advantage over the invaders."

    "The Republic army will come undone soon enough," Serri vowed, "As will the Jedi defenders."

    Suddenly, the holographic communication between the crime bosses began to receive interference, with each display flickering off and on.

    "Sir, we are being jammed by an intruding ship," reported a Neimodian aide.

    A single Herald-class ship appeared from the vacuum of space, firing at the main signal tower of the skyhook Falleen Jewel.

    Darth Ultor's face appeared on the holoprojectors and screens throughout every Hutt, Black Sun, and Pyke command ship as he hijacked the communication tower with his ship's technology.

    "I am the Dark Master of the Coalition, and you will all obey me!" Ultor hissed, glaring threateningly into the screen of his cockpit, "I united your disorganized, chaotic crime syndicates into a powerful guerrilla army, and I alone brought you to the brink of victory. Now, it will be I who leads the final charge against all our enemies."

    Rotta spoke directly to Ultor from the safety of his father Jabba's former palace, slithering through the throne room floor as he spoke to the projector that displayed Ultor's scowling face.

    "How dare you take credit for our victories?" Rotta asked in Huttese, "You who have been obsessed with fables and legends? You who have been absent from every battle we have fought in the last year. We will no longer bow to you, Dark Master."

    "You will obey me or perish," Ultor replied with a snarl. His fists trembled and pounded on the controls of his fighter as he clenched with rage. The injuries he was still suffering from only fueled his anger. "I order every Coalition command ship to send all bombers to the surface of Tatooine. We will go scorched world and destroy every inch of land. Every man, woman, and child will die at our hands, no matter how innocent. Nobody will leave this desert planet alive. We will crush all life on Tatooine, or I will destroy you all."

    The communication channel between the crime bosses responded with shocked and terrified silence. None of them were prepared for the sheer fury and evil coming from Ultor.

    Yet he felt the hate swelling through every vein and artery, using his malicious lust to quell the thoughts of doubt that Ultor had previously experienced. His moments of weakness would be undone by the devastation he would unleash.

    "If we destroy everything on the planet, then our syndicates will have nothing to rule over," Krim replied, "We are here to ensure that our armies and empires maintain power, not to destroy everything in our paths. You go too far in your wantonness, Sith Lord."

    Vigo Serri chimed in, "Even if we wanted to scorch everything, it would be too great of a risk with the presence of the Republic fleet. You have crossed the line into insanity, Dark Master."

    "Then you will die along with every life form on Tatooine," Ultor snarled, "Prepare to be blown into oblivion."

    He reached for the lever that activated the guns of his Herald ship, opening fire and aiming at everu part of Serri's skyhook that he could reach.

    "Respond with maximum firepower!" Yerrin Serri yelled, patching a signal to the gunneries of the Jewel, "Shoot him down!"

    Ultor was suddenly faced with a swarm of Syck fighters appearing in attack formation, wasting no time before shooting in his direction.

    Ultor used his enhanced reflexes to pilot his Herald away from the many intersecting lines of fire, pounding his fingers against the triggers that fired off his ship's guns and cannons.

    Pilot after pilot exploded in a ball of gas and fire, as the Huttese ships tore apart. Ultor bared his teeth as he continued firing, too fast for any of the Coalition ships to keep up.

    However, his speed could not match the number of Hutt Cartel and Black Sun fighters that were beginning overwhelm him.

    Ultor began to smell fire bursting through the hull of his ship as lasers tore through the aluminum.

    He shouted out loud in a fit of rage, using his Force powers to preserve himself and his vessel from being completely obliterated.

    With a final yell, Ultor pulled the lever that activated his ship's hyperdrive before fainting into unconsciousness.

    The Herald-class resembled a flaming comet as it blasted out of Tatooine's orbit past the circling Republic and Coalition fleets.

    TATOOINE

    The newly acquired TX-900 landspeeder sped we across the Dune Sea, with Slave II leading the way overhead. Three armed farmers of the newly formed defense militia accompanied Sam as he piloted the speeder towards the remote adobe city of Bestine.

    "Are we sure that this won't attract attention from either the Republic or Coalition?" asked Krit Sans, sitting in the passenger seat beside Sam as he piloted the speeder towards the distant town of Bestine.

    "We need the get the weapons somehow," Sam replied, "There's always going to be the risk that any arms dealer is Coalition friendly. Besides, we have two Jedi to protect us." Sam jerked his head up at Slave II, where Kira and Tahiri sat in the cockpit.

    The other two volunteers, a human woman named Alee Kress and a male Kiffar named Olyp Prund kept their macrobinoculars trained on the city as it grew larger.

    Bestine had a comparatively low Coalition presence, but about three dozen Syck fighters could be seen overhead, with a small swarm of Pyke Sarisa gunships delivering muscle warriors to the city.

    Sam switched on his comlink with his free hand and said, "Are you guys in position?"

    "Copy, Rogue Leader," Kira replied from the cockpit of Slave II.

    To Tahiri, she said, "Do you think we can get these back in time?"

    "This is a fast ship you stole from that bounty hunter," Tahiri replied, "It's just a matter of Sam not being recognized by the Coalition and attacked on sight."

    "Or by the Republic," Kira replied, "Omas will be coming after us both. When I went to go rescue Sam on Chandrilia, I accidentally killed his dad, that's what he was talking about on the Falcon. I got angry and I just began to shut down his midichlorians."

    "But he's alive, the general?" Tahiri asked, turning sideways to gape at Kira, "You guys brought him here."

    "When I was on Sojourn, Darth Plagueis taught me how to use the midichlorians..." Kira hesitated, finding the hateful lust rising inside her as she thought about her experience in Damask's laboratory. "To kill, and bring people back. Praxium has a low count, so he was easier to do than a powerful Force user would be."

    "You can bring people back from the dead, as long as they have a low count?" Tahiri asked in astonishment.

    "This power, it's had me thinking dark thoughts. I want to get rid of it," Kira replied.

    As they hovered over the landspeeder that carried Sam and the volunteers, Kira began to steer Slave II in a lap around the area of the Dune Sea adjacent to the border of Bestine, far enough from the Coalition ships passing through.

    "I reckon we'd better land somewhere, before we attract attention?" Tahiri suggested.

    As Sam and his party flew into the outskirts of the city, filled with small repair shops, fuel stations, and markets, Olyp Prund remarked, "This was a mistake. The streets are so empty here."

    "We're sure to attract attention," Alee said, "Especially carrying a crateload of weapons back to the base."

    "We have Jedi protectors watching over us," Sam replied, "It'll go smoothly."

    As the Pyke gunships landed in the main docking bay, several cloaked and armed Pyke warriors exited, carrying heavy blaster rifles and pouring into the city.

    Inside a small establishment, a family of Falleens cowered in the corner; a husband, wife, and two children, trembling in fear.

    Durge the Gen'Dai bounty hunter aimed his large heavy blaster rifle at then with one hand, while keeping an eye on the passing speeder with the four passengers.

    "Please, please let us go," the mother begged.

    "Collateral damage is sometimes necessary in making a good catch," Durge replied calmly in his booming voice.

    "Looks like we got trouble," Kira pointed out as four Syck fighters approached Slave II.

    As her hands impulsively went for the trigger to fire the Firespray's cannons, Tahiri caught them.

    "Wait, don't fire yet."

    The Weequay inside the lead Syck activated her radio and said, "Please identify yourself and your business here. This is Hutt Clan territory that you have entered."

    A long pause from the ship.

    "Should we fire?" asked one of the Trandoshan pilots.

    "Hold it for now," the leader replied, "I think this ship belongs to one of our regulars."

    Kira replied finally, in a voice slightly deeper than her own.

    "This is bounty hunter Ailyn Fett speaking. I have a Jedi bounty to deliver to the Hutts."

    "I think that is Ailyn's ship," the second pilot said.

    "Very well," the Weequay replied, "You may pass through."

    Kira continued to pilot Slave II over the landscape of Bestine, towards a small, inconspicuous docking platform built under the ground level between a communication tower and an office building.

    "The Hutts are going to be expecting a Jedi prisoner now," Tahiri said as their stolen ship began to descending into the landing pit, "Those goons are sure to tip them off."

    "We'll be fast getting the weapons, and then long gone by the time the Cartel figures out we were faking," Kira replied.

    "Just in case, we're going to need a plan in case we run into trouble," Tahiri pointed out, "We are deep in enemy territory after all."

    "Let's see what this bounty hunter has stocked up," Kira murmured as she hopped up from the pilot's seat and ducked out of the cockpit.

    Tahiri followed her as Kira opened up a secret compartment in the cargo hold to find an array of blaster rifles and pistols, coupled with an extra suit of Mandalorian armor.

    "Disguising as the enemy is the oldest trick in the book," Kira remarked.

    "Probably why it always works," Tahiri replied.

    A minute later, the ramp of Slave II had slid down, and Tahiri was wearing a pair of bindercuffs that bound her wrists behind her back.

    Kira had both her own lightsaber and Tahiri's clipped to the belt of Ailyn's extra suit of armor, and she donned the helmet to cover her face.

    "We'd better find Sam and the others," Tahiri urged as the disguised Kira led her towards the staircase connecting the landing bay to the streets above, "before the Coalition catches on to us."

    As the landspeeder continued through the streets of Bestine, Sam asked, "Do you have the location of the arms dealer?"

    "I got it, but it's still very risky," Krit replied, "He's got his supply in Weazel's Cantina."

    "Show me the way," Sam replied as he steered the craft past the odd eopie or GNK droid. The streets were predictably deserted as the Bestine residents took cover away from the Coalition forces.

    As Mandalorian-Kira led the prisoner Tahiri after the speeder, a skiff appeared from the domed and rectangular adobe rooftops above them, hovering towards the street before beginning to descend.

    "Ailyn Fett!" shouted a Pyke warrior as he and his seven companions appeared at the railing of the skiff.

    Kira didn't dare speak, lest she give away her true identity. Yet, she had no choice but to stop as the skiff came to a stop in the street in front of her and Tahiri, blocking their path.

    The ramp to the skiff lowered and the eight warriors walked down onto the sand. Kira could barely restrain her legs from wobbling with fear as a shiver went down her back.

    The lead Pyke spoke first, sparing Kira the pressure of doing so.

    "The Hutts will be pleased with this Jedi bounty," he said, "We have brought you a skiff to deliver her to Rotta's palace."

    Kira's mind raced with panic, scrambling to come up with a quick plan.

    Before she knew what she was doing, Kira had released the bindercuffs she was using to restrain Tahiri and raised her hand, closing her armored fingers together.

    In response, the lead Pyke warrior levitated off the ground, kicking the air as he reached for his throat.

    "Kira, no!" Tahiri hissed, realizing that their cover was blown.

    The other Pykes went in for the attack, firing their blasters and lunging with their staffs.

    Kira was able to choke the leader into unconsciousness before unclipping and activating her lightsaber.

    With a yell, she jabbed her blue blade into the gut of a Pyke warrior who had been about to impale her with an electrically charged staff.

    At the same time, Tahiri used the Force to undo her cuffs and summoned her own weapon from Kira's belt.

    As she switched on her lightsaber's purple blade, Tahiri used the Force to push away two warriors attacking her, knocking them into the skiff.

    Both Jedi women deflected blaster bolts from the standing Pykes, but Tahiri was standing her ground while Kira was going for the incapacitated warriors who had been disarmed or stunned.

    One by one, Kira cut her blade into the Pykes's hooded heads and plated chests, easily ending their lives. Tahiri could only stare in shock at her friend's ruthlessness. The Pykes were enemies, but the Jedi did not cast any more harm than was necessary to anyone.

    Turning off and sheathing her lightsaber, Kira lifted Ailyn Fett's helmet off of her head and cast it aside in disgust.

    "I was tired of wearing this thing anyway."

    "Now our cover's blown," Tahiri worried, "We're in danger every minute we stick around here." She knew that it was Kira's brash actions that had doomed them, but it was not in Tahiri's nature to say so outright. Besides, casting blame would not help them any.

    "We'd better find Sam then," Kira replied, "so we can all get out of here."

    Sam, Krit, Alee and Olyp were hasty in rushing from their parked landspeeder into Weazel's Cantina.

    Weazel himself, a short human male with frenzied grey hair, greeted the four newcomers with an enthusiastic wave as they entered, asking, "Welcome, travelers, what'll it be for you?"

    "We're looking for Rold Krun," Krit said, "The arms-man."

    Weazel sniffed in annoyance. "I run a business here, you know. I keep telling Krun that he's got to do his deals elsewhere."

    "So he's here, then," Sam asked urgently.

    Weazel nodded in the direction of a large booth, where a four legged Dug was slouching.

    Sam could see a large net under the table, filled with heavy blaster rifles ready to deliver to the waiting militia back at the Lars Homestead.

    "We're the militia who asked for the shipment of weapons," Sam spoke up, "Are you Krun, the arms dealer?"

    "The best in the business," Krun replied, "Have you got the payment?"

    Sam and the three Tatooine locals reached into their pocket for the accumulation of credits in their possession, passing them into Krun's front paws.

    "You're offering a good bargain, for so much weaponry," Alee observed, glancing at the concealed supply.

    "Well, there's a little extra in it for me," Krun replied, "I want the Coalition gone as much as the next businessman. They claim anarchy and freedom, but they stomp over all of us honest workers."

    "You call the work you do honest?" Sam asked.

    "Weapons are a business like anything else, commodities to be sold," Krun replied, "But you see- sometimes a businessman has to go the extra mile. For example, you and your friends are in very high demand in these parts."

    Sam did not like the sound of that at all. "What do you mean?" he asked, his hand drifting towards his blaster.

    Suddenly, the entire cantina trembled as the street outside was stricken by a stomping steel foot.

    The shadow of Durge filled the tavern as civilians began to flee.

    "You'll remember the famed bounty hunter Durge?" Krun laughed, "He promised me a handsome sum for luring you to him. So long!"

    Krun leapt up and swung out of the booth over the four humans, hopping past the foot traffic towards the metallic Durge.

    "Four resistance fighters, and two Jedi to follow," Krun said, "Now my payment as promised?"

    Durge pointed his fist at Krun, activating the laser cannons attached to his arms.

    Two seconds later, Rold Krun was a pile of smoked flesh lying in the sand.

    "Grab the weapons and fire!" Sam urged, tearing into the net that contained their shipment of blaster rifles.

    He grabbed a rifle and passed another to Krit. Olyp and Alee quickly armed themselves as well and fired out the cantina window towards Durge.

    The blaster bolts bounced off of the Gen'Dai's powerful armor, and Durge aimed his fist into the adobe roof, tearing open a gaping hole.

    "Run!" Sam yelled, firing again at Durge as he backed away.

    Durge advanced, demolishing the cantina wall with a single kick as he approached his prey.

    "We can't outrun him, we're trapped!" Olyp replied, nonetheless joining in as the four of them shot every inch of Durge that they could.

    "We can slow him down though," Sam replied, nevertheless feeling his boots bouncing as Durge shook the cantina floor with every step he took towards them.

    Just as they were backed against the wall, Durge aimed his arm cannon at them, preparing to open fire.

    Just then, somebody let out a yell behind Durge, and a bar of violet plasma appeared in front of his face.

    Blinded, Durge stumbled around the floor, swinging his steel fists as Tahiri kept her arm wrapped firmly around his neck.

    "You came!" Sam exclaimed as Kira joined the fight, slashing at Durge's legs with her lightsaber.

    "Get the weapons and go!" Krit yelled, reaching for the net with the rest of the rifles. Alee held on to the other end and helped him drag it past Durge and the Jedi, while Sam and Olyp kept firing at Durge.

    Kira dropped onto a round stone table and rolled over as Durge aimed a lethal kick in her direction.He began firing indiscriminately in all directions, drilling hole after hole in the cantina walls and ceiling.

    Tahiri held onto his neck as she continued to press her lightsaber against his eye sockets.

    Durge cried out as he fired in a circular motion, striking Alee in the back. She cried out as she crumpled to the floor, falling onto the pile of weapons in the net.

    "No!" Krit yelled. Durge followed his voice and shot him in the chest, while Kira continued to slice at him in frustration, barely managing to leave a scratch.

    "Keep firing!" Sam shouted at Olyp as they continued to shoot, but the blaster bolts kept bouncing off Durge's armor.

    Kira looked up at Durge, realizing that there was only one way out. This indestructible bounty hunter had the same weakness that any living being did- he was given life by the midichlorians inside him.

    Kira had no idea how strong with the Force the bounty hunter was, or how effectively he would be able to counter her manipulation, but she knew that she had to try.

    In the time it had taken Kira to come up with her plan, Durge had mowed Olyp down, leaving Sam as the last of their militia's mission team members.

    It was only a matter of time before Durge would fatally shoot down Sam, Kira realized. She extended her hand and forced her mind to dig deep into Durge, calling to the midichlorians inside his body.

    Durge dropped onto one knee with a thud that sent Tahiri flying off of him into the wrecked wall. She rolled to the floor in a temporary daze as Kira concentrated on shutting down Durge's midichlorians.

    His vision restored, Durge turned his torso and head around to find the source of his gradual shutdown, finding Kira glaring at him with her hand stretched in his direction.

    Durge pointed his arm at Kira and fired at will, forcing her to break concentration and duck out of the way.

    Tahiri leapt in the way between her friend and Durge and swung her violet blade in a rapid sideways motion that swatted aside Durge's line of fire.

    Struggling with the heavy rifle weight, Sam sprang up from the adobe wall and dashed past Durge, aiming a shot directly at Durge's arm cannon.

    The towering bounty hunter was not expecting the blast, and stammered as the cannon was knocked off of his metal sleeve and broke in two.

    "Get out, now!" Tahiri yelled, lunging for Sam and pulling him after her.

    As soon as Kira recovered her footing, she sprinted after her friends towards the cantina's exit, while Durge swung his fists in their direction, now disarmed.

    "We have a better chance at taking him out now!" Tahiri shouted.

    "Maybe you do!" Sam replied as Durge reached his long arm towards his rifle and grabbed hold, lifting Sam clear off the ground.

    "Let go, Sam, let go!" Kira yelled.

    Durge held Sam's rifle ten feet above the ground level with his head, with Sam hanging onto it still.

    The Gen'Dai prepared to drop Sam under his waiting boot, but as the renegade Brigadier fell, Kira and Tahiri reached out at the same time with the Force, pushing the airborne Sam onto the adjacent rooftop, where the power lines were extending from one building to the next.

    Kira saw the cables hanging above their heads and said, "Tahiri, cover me!"

    She bent her knees and Force leapt into the air towards Sam, who was running to avoid Durge's flying fist. He reached into the holster on his belt to grab his pistol while Kira landed on the roof, striking at Durge's hand with her lightsaber.

    "Sam, blast the power line!" Kira said.

    Sam looked wildly between Kira and the rampaging Durge, then took a shot at the nearest wire.

    The cable split in two as the laser blasted through it, causing a powerful spark of electricity to escape it.

    As Durge reached to send a powerful punch at Kira, he looked down to find Tahiri swatting at his legs with her lightsaber, as aggressively as she could swing it.

    Durge lifted his boot to give her a fatal kick, but then at that moment, Kira used the Force to send the vivisected power cable flying at him.

    Durge howled as the electricity surged through his metallic plates, stumbling blindly towards the building containing the power plant that generated the city.

    Tahiri used the Force to seize hold of the other end of the cut cable, causing it to hit Durge and double the intensity of the electrical bolts hitting his giant body.

    Durge screamed in his deep, resonant voice as he collapsed face first into the adobe building, his body crushing the wall as he hit the plant inside.

    "Out of the way!" Tahiri yelled.

    Kira and Sam jumped down at the same time, crawling after Tahiri towards the alley between two neighboring buildings. They thought of nothing but getting as far away as possible as the building collapsed and caused the power plant to explode.

    The plates of Durge's armor flew across the city streets along with chunks of adobe, causing the hiding Bestine residents and the patrolling Coalition guerrillas alike to scatter for cover.

    Kira coughed on the cinders and ashes as her vision slowly returned.

    Soon enough, she could see her friends emerging from the wreckage, coughing along with her.

    "There'll be more of them soon," Tahiri commented, "We don't have any time to savor this."

    The Millennium Falcon soared urgently across the light blue desert sky over the Dune Sea, in search of the missing strike team.

    The entire party of farmer and villager fighters was seated in the passenger hold, awkwardly crammed in with one another.

    In the cockpit, Han, Leia, Chewie and the droids desperately searched the area with the ship's scanners, hoping to find Kira, Sam, Tahiri and the others safely returning.

    "Hey, you'd sense it if anything happened to them, wouldn't you?" Han asked his wife eagerly.

    "Kira's okay, for now," Leia replied numbly.

    Chewbacca let out a warning cry as the scanners picked up on a swarm of approaching Syck fighters.

    "Oh no, not them," Han groaned, "Chewie, you know what to do."

    Chewbacca raced out of the cockpit towards the gunning turrets, pushing aside crowded passengers as he made his way through the round corridor.

    "Watch it," a man said as Chewie stepped on his foot, to which Chewie replied with a quick apology.

    "They'll outnumber us before long," Threepio fretted, "We'll never be able to get through them all."

    "Haven't you seen enough of what this old girl can do?" Han asked, steering the Falcon upwards to avoid the line of fire from the Coalition ships.

    From the advancing AT-GT, a scout said, "Over there!"

    Inside his own cockpit, Cal Omas observed and said, "It's Solo and the other deserters. Where they are, there'll be the Jedi."

    Omas switched on a projector that patched up to the fleet of Republic command ships in orbit of Tatooine.

    "Deploy Blue and Orange squadrons against the Falcon," he ordered, "and send the drone bombers as well."

    "Looks like we got more company," Han said as Republic Interceptors began to appear from above, beginning their own streaks of laserfire directed at both the Falcon and the Coalition ships.

    "Get us out of here!" a voice shouted from down below.

    "We're all doomed in here!"

    "Han, we can't stick around," Leia told her husband regretfully, "We're going to have to get everyone away from here, to safety."

    "What about Kira?" Han replied.

    Leia sighed sadly, realizing that the common greater goal would have to, for the moment, take priority. Ever the Jedi, she said, "I think we're going to have to leave them on their own for now."

    "HELP!"

    Han cringed painfully, but nevertheless pulled the accelerator to carry them all far away from the Republic and Coalition ships alike. Both sides pursued the Falcon, but the Interceptors, Sycks, and Vipers had begun to fire at one another as well.

    Han continued to avoid the lines of fire as he piloted the Falcon to safety in the distance.
     
  12. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    Author’s note- to my very few readers, I have not abandoned this story.
    I have been struggling to figure out how to write one of my characters from one place to another in a believable enough scenario- I’ve pretty much solved it.


    The next chapter is coming soon- as is the rest of the story
     
  13. Dark Ferus

    Dark Ferus Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Jul 29, 2016
    To the maybe three of you reading this-

    I am still working on the next chapter, and I know how the story will go from there-

    The delay is because I am/was struggling to get one character from one place to another with the right character motivation, and show how their actions are being influenced by something they should not have dabbled in.